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Weather wins the day at men’s interprovincial

A torrential downpour five minutes into the second half of semi-final two between favourites Tuffy Western Province and Northern Blues in the BDO Men’s Interprovincial Hockey Tournament in Cape Town on Friday night forced tournament director Feico Mulder to re-schedule the remaining 30 minutes to be played early Saturday morning at the University of Cape Town.

Jon Cook reports that due to the rain delays and the waterlogged stadium pitch at Hartleyvale, Saturday’s classification matches in the A Section will begin at 9am at UCT. At the time of going to Press a decision had still to be made with respect to the time and venue, UCT or Hartleyvale, of the final. However, the B Section final between Western Province Disas and Border will be at 2pm on Hartleyvale Pitch B.

Pretoria’s Blues had WP under the cosh by establishing a 3-1 lead when play was called off.

In the 21st minute Bern├® Burger ┬áscored a magnificent solo goal after collecting the ball out on the left wing, cutting inside, drawing WP keeper Jacques le Roux out of goal and placing the ball inside the post (1-0). Two minutes later (23rd) the Blues won a second penalty corner and with WP skipper Andrew Cronje sent to the sin-bin, Matt Guise-Brown made it hurt even more with a stunning drag-flick that rattled the goal frame (2-0).

Near-mayhem erupted amongst the Blues fans in the 26th when Kewan Harries loped around on the left flank before slipping the ball to the in-form Richard Pautz, who made the score 3-0.

WP hit back from the re-start ÔÇô just as the heavens opened with the most stunning force ÔÇô when Pierre de Voux pounced on a loose ball to finish clinically in the 28th minute (3-1).

The downpour forced the players off. The remaining seven first-half minutes were completed on Pitch B. Five minutes into the second half, still on Pitch B, play was a halted due to another deluge, which made conditions dangerous. An hour later, the decision was made to play the remaining 30 minutes at 8am at UCT on Saturday.

Defending champions Southern Gauteng won the first semi-final 4-1 against KZN Raiders at Hartleyvale Stadium after leading 2-0 at half-time. Durban’s Raiders felt aggrieved at a number of decisions that went against them at key moments.

Southerns, with a dozen national players past and present, went 1-0 up in the 13th minute when Jethro Eustice won the ball near halfway and fed Julian Hykes, who was 30-metres out. The striker broke the game wide open with a magnificent display of close control and neat footwork under pressure, beating three defenders with very little space to work in near the left-hand baseline before evading keeper Gowan Jones and slipping the ball over the goalline.

In the 26th minute Southerns won the first penalty corner and Gareth Heyns fired a pass towards the far post where Dean Symons, coming at pace from the right, connected with a flat-stick deflection goal on the forehand past a stunned Raiders defence (2-0).

The Paton brothers, Wade and Taine, as well as Greg Last, worked incredibly hard and created opportunities but the decisions did not go their side’s way, causing much frustration.

After the changeover, Southerns went 3-0 up from their fourth penalty corner when Ricky West made no mistake. The Raiders appealed but to no avail.

In the 51st minute the Raiders’ Greg Last drilled a free-hit towards goal that edged off a defender’s stick on to Taine Paton, who tipped the ball in (3-1) but in the 61ST minute Eustice steered Southerns’ sixth PC low into the backboard (4-1).

Bottom four first-round playoffs: WP Peninsula 4 Free State 2; North West 7 KZN Mynahs 1
Middle four first-round playoffs: South Africa U21 3 KZN Inland 0; Witwatersrand 3 Eastern Province 2
Semi-final 1: Southern Gauteng 4 KZN Raiders 1
Semi-final 2: Northern Blues 3 WP 1 (Remaining 30 minutes to be played at 8 am Saturday at UCT).