Hosts Southern Gauteng enjoyed a stellar second day at the Greenfields Senior Interprovincial Nationals on Randburg Hockey Stadium on Tuesday with their men’s and women’s teams claiming pole position in the Pool phase after posting second successive wins.
Jon Cook reports that defending champions, the Southern Gauteng women, conjured up a top-class 7-0 demolition of Free State, Lisa-Mari Deetlefs and Bernie Coston each scoring twice, while the men emerged with a hard-fought 2-1 win over arch-rivals and perennial challengers Northern Blues in a fractious game which ended a day interrupted by over an hour of fury from the Highveld’s grumpy heavens.
Southerns didn’t win without a fight, coming back from a 1-0 deficit by Africa Olympic Qualifier hat-trick hero Matt Guise-Brown, the former Maritzburg College head prefect and goalscoring record holder.
Brad Venter produced an equaliser on the stroke of half-time before Southerns earned a shot from the penalty spot, Guise-Brown allegedly hacking Julian Hykes’ rhythm stick from behind in the goal zone.
The unerring pace, explosivness and precision of Gareth Heyns then bulged the Blues’ net for a classy winner. But … such is the brutal nature of tournament hockey, last year’s finalists from the City of Gold may yet be caught at the top of their Pool if second-stringers Wits beat the Blues on Wednesday and Southerns fall victim to a characteristic implosion against a more-than-useful Eastern Province.
The men from the Windy City beat the Blues 4-3 on Monday’s opening day before being upstaged 2-1 by feisty underdogs Witsies on day two. Wits’ supremely talented Nic Gonsalves doubled up via an action goal in the 19th and a brilliantly-worked PC option in the 22nd. The deficit was cut in half by Cody van Wyk from field play but the PE lads weren’t able to carve a way through twice.
Pool A of the men’s A Section is developing into an epic contest as reigning champs and prolific Nationals winners Tuffy Western Province dropped to third after losing to SA U21 while KZN Raiders, who drew with the junior internationals on the first day, joined them at the top of the standings with a comfortable 6-1 win over Free State.
Free State provided anxious times for the men from the muggy East Coast but it was only a hiccup as Durban roared to victory.
Free State started strongly and so nearly claimed the first goal when Dylan Swanepoel rocketed a PC drag-flick off the post in the second minute. But gradually their competitiveness waned and Raiders cranked up the pressure with passages of quality hockey.
The Surf City boys opened the scoring in the eighth when a fine Mo Mea cross was expertly met and deflected into goal by Travis Hardnick.
The rest of the half went well for Raiders as they added two more impressive goals. Stephen Wiggett showed the talents of an ace goal-poacher as he seemed to have so much time to rob the ball off a defender’s stick and slam it into the goal, all in one stroke, for the Raiders’ second goal, and Jethro Eustice, who did invaluable work in midfield, then flicked home well from a PC to make it 3-0 after 20.
Varsity College’s Dan Sibbald was inches away from the goal of the tournament to date when his reverse-stick shot batted off the post, the international having started the move just outside his own 23 with a superb run.
The third quarter was better for Free State as they pulled a goal back through Darren Kamffer before normal service was resumed in the final quarter, Raiders racking up three more.
Ross Hetem set up and finished the first with a measured aerial across the D to Jarryd Jones, who cut back and returned to Hetem, who slotted home a good reverse-stick finish.
Jones scored the last on the final hooter with a slap high into the net after a PC with Wiggett getting his second five minutes earlier with a well-struck angled shot.
SA U21 were having none of their heroics of yore, denting the Capetonians’ ambitions in a five-goal contest that epitomised strength of purpose in head coach Garreth Ewing’s charges.
Ryan Crowe handed SA U21 the lead with a field goal before Western Province struck back thanks to an Austin Smith PC drag-flick.
The thundershowers then intervened which led to a waterlogged astro, pushing the remainder of the day’s games back. Play eventually resumed with the sides locked 1-1.
Another field goal, this time by Khumo Mokale, helped SA U21 regain the lead and a penalty stroke in the 40th from St John’s College product Kyle Lion-Cachet sealed victory.
Western Province managed to close the gap with four minutes left as prolific PC exponent and twice World All Stars selection Smith recorded another set-piece strike.
Tuffy WP women provided more ill news for the Western Cape as they drew 1-1 with Northern Blues. The early exchanges were dominated by Northerns who created a number of chances by putting the heat on WP’s defensive screen.
Had it not been for diminutive shot stopper Nicole la Fleur the Pretoria lasses may have been down a goal early on as the woman donning the mitts kept out an explosive Jacinta Jubb PC effort in the ninth.
Jubb broke the bottleneck two minutes from the changeover with a powerful PC that hurtled into the backboard like a racehorse out of the gate.
The lead was short-lived as Province struck back through Anche Nortje and while both sides fought hard for the lead in the third and fourth quarters the goals never came. It was made worse by the fact that both sides were left to rue a number of missed set-piece opportunities.
North-West’s women showed they will be coming hard at Southern Gauteng when they meet Wednesday with a trouble-free 4-1 win over the SA U21s, two of their goals coming from Lori Hyde.
In the picture Amkelwe Letuka of SA U21 gives his all as he tried to rob Adrian Abrahams of possession on Tuesday. Picture: Reg Caldecott
Men’s A Section: KZN Raiders 6 (Travis Hardnick, Stephen Wiggett , Jethro Eustice, Ross Hetem, Jarryd Jones) Free State 1 (Darren Kamffer); Eastern Province 1 (Cody van Wyk) Wits 2 (Nicolas Gonsalves ); Tuffy Western Province 2 (Austin Smith ) SA U21 3 (Ryan Crowe, Khumo Mokale, Kyle Lion-Cachet); Southern Gauteng 2 (Brad Venter, Gareth Heyns) Northern Blues 1 (Matthew Guise-Brown)
Women’s A Section: North West 4 (Sulette Damons, Lori Hyde , Sinalo Jafta) SA U21 1 (Nomnikelo Veto); Southern Gauteng 7 (Lisa-Mari Deetlefs , Robyn Johnson, Bernadette Coston , Taryn Mallett, Lisa Hawker) Free State 0; Tuffy Western Province 1 (Anche Nortje) Northerns Blues 1 (Jacinta Jubb); Spar KZN Raiders 3 (Chiree Coetzee, Sarah Bingham, Kara-Lee Stella) Wits 0
Men’s B Section: Northerns B 2 (Michael Hesse, Michael Seal) Eastern Gauteng 2 (Grant Robins, Brandon Crockett); SA Country Districts 2 (Henry Cock, Keith Stainbank) Zimbabwe 3 (Phillip Machaya, Tendai Maredza, Luckson Sikisa); KZN Inland 0 KZN Mynahs 5 (Dale van der Merwe , Richard Pentecost, Tanner Bottomley); WP Peninsula 4 (Warren McEwan , Luthando Jonas, Cameron Ryan) North-West 3 (Gertjie Lambrecht, Wayne Jeffery, Essex Mbekeni)
Women’s B Section: WP Peninsula 8 ( Nicole Bartsch , Georgia Moir, Simone Strydom, Rosanne Lombard, Georgia Grobler, Aimee Pote, Robyn Pinder) SA Country Districts 1 (Robyn Morgan); Southern Gauteng Nuggets 0 Northerns B 3 (Anneke Avent, Janie Porteous, Chanel Dippenaar); Mpumalanga 1 (Shannia-Lee Swart) Zimbabwe 4 (Michelle Williams , Iman Johnson, Nicola Watson); KZN Mynahs 5 (Carla van Niekerk , Pamela Daniel , Jamie Chisholm) KZN Inland 2 (Silindile Mbhele, Tiffany Jones).