A superb display of goalkeeping by Tuffy Western Province’s Jacques le Roux inspired the hosts to unseat reigning champions Southern Gauteng 1-0 in the final of the BDO Men’s Interprovincial Hockey Tournament at Hartleyvale Stadium in Cape Town on Saturday.
Jon Cook reports that Matt Botha hit the winner in the 63rd minute after a flick-on by Lungi Tsolekile from Cuan Burton-Moore’s pass. Southerns threw caution to the wind in substituting captain and outstanding goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse for an extra field player in the last four minutes but three chances to the Johannesburg lads could not be converted and the trophy moves to Cape Town.
Le Roux made good as well as great saves from Julian Hykes, Nick Gonsalves, Dean Symons, Gareth Heyns, Clinton Panther and Brandon Panther, but Pieterse was also immense in denying Craig Haley and Lloyd Norris-Jones on more than one occasion.
However, WP also came closest to scoring when a Norris-Jones shot hit the post, while Southerns vice-captain Dylan Coombes was superb in saving on the goalline from a penalty corner drag-flick by Province captain Andrew Cronje.
WP, who on balance deserved the title, had the better of the first half, but Southerns came back into the game after the changeover.
It was an unforgettable day for WP in more ways than one, as they came back from a 3-1 deficit to beat Northern Blues 4-3 in the unfinished semi-final early Saturday morning.
Friday’s night’s second semi-final stopped after 28 minutes and moved to the B pitch, this after Pretoria’s Blues had stormed into a 3-0 lead. The alarming downpour that had rendered the stadium surface unplayable then proceeded to force a postponement of the match five minutes into the second half on Pitch B, at which point WP had pulled a goal back.
The semi-final resumed at University of Cape Town at 8 am Saturday and Province produced high-quality hockey in the remaining 30 minutes. And again it was Matt Botha ÔÇô in the last minute ÔÇô who scored the winner ÔÇô for a stunning 4-3 victory.
Seven hours later they faced Southerns for the gold medal and did it again.
A Section (11th/12th) Free State 7 KZN Mynahs 5; (9/10) WP Peninsula 4 North West 3; (7/8) KZN Inland 3 Eastern Province 2; (5/6) South Africa U21 12 Witwatersrand 1; (3/4) KZN Raiders 2 Northern Blues 0; (Final) Tuffy Western Province 1 Southern Gauteng 0.
B Section: (5th) Namibia; (3/4) EP Settlers 2 SA Country Districts 2 (Settlers won penalty shootout 4-2); (1/2) Western Province Disas 2 Border 1.