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Champs S Gauteng take on W Province in final

Jon Cook
in Port Elizabeth

Saturday’s finalists were decided on day four of the SA Women’s Hockey Interprovincial Tournament on the KC March Astro in Port Elizabeth.

Last year’s silver medallists Western Province beat North West 4-1 in a fast-paced first semi-final that had thrills and spills galore, while in the late game reigning champions Southern Gauteng beat Northern Blues 4-0 thanks to a first-half goal by 2004 Athens Olympian Tsoanelo Pholo and three more after the changeover by Sammy Prost, Catherine McNulty and Robyn Johnson for the 4-0 final scoreline.

Saturday’s gold medal title match between WP and Southern Gauteng flicks off at 8pm, preceded by the bronze medal match at 6pm between North West and Northern Blues.

Meanwhile, the tournament is set for another epic battle for Eastern Cape domination when Border, who beat Eastern Province 4-0 in Pool A on Wednesday ÔÇô the highest margin in history ÔÇô tackle their arch-rivals at 4pm in the play-off for fifth and sixth places.

Friday’s gripping cross-pool play-offs saw a Toni Marks strike in the 59th minute give EP a 1-0 win over Free State, while Border edged the hapless KZN Coastal Raiders 3-2 in a penalty shootout after the scores were locked 0-0 at full-time.

In Friday’s first semi-final, North West’s Investec South Africa women’s hockey team striker Sulette Damons set the pulses racing with a backhand that hit the post after seven minutes. Soon after, Amor├® de Wet had her effort miraculously saved on the goalline by WP stalwart Leigh Boardman.

In the 10th minute former national junior sprint champion Damons opened the scoring when a blistering 40-metre run blew defenders away before the sharpshooter cracked the ball into the backboard (1-0).

After concerted pressure, favourites WP equalised when experienced former SA striker Farah Fredericks conjured up a stunning slice of skill to convert a botched penalty corner.

The teams turned around with the score still 1-1 and in the 42nd minute Fredericks drew on experience and deft stickwork to coolly slip the ball past the keeper following a goalmouth skirmish (2-1).

In the 58th minute the irrepressible Fredericks made her mark once again when she fired in a backhand pass that was converted by Rosie Lombard (3-1).

Fredericks rubbed salt into the wound with her hat-trick goal, which concluded a dream match for the Maties veteran and booked a place in Saturday’s trophy match.

KZN Inland, who earned a deserved 2-1 win over a gutsy Eastern Province Settlers in the semi-finals of the B Section, will play Witwatersrand, the other B Section side with a 100% win record, in the tournament’s lower-tier final.

(KC March Astro unless stated)

A Section
(Seventh/eighth) Free State vs KZN Coastal Raiders (12pm)
(Fifth/sixth) Eastern Province vs Border (4pm)
(Bronze medal match) North West vs Northern Blues (6pm)
(Title match) Western Province vs Southern Gauteng (8pm)

B Section
(7/8) Southern Cape vs SA Country Districts A (8am)
(5/6) KZN Mynahs vs SA Country Districts B (10am)
(3/4) EP Settlers vs Mpumalanga (Westering High School 2pm)
(Final) KZN Inland vs Witwatersrand (2pm)