Southern Cape carved out a tidy victory while Western Province mounted a spirited comeback with a win and a draw in the third round of the South African Under-19 Inter-Provincial in Nelspruit on Wednesday, but it could be too little, too late for the defending champions and 2014 winners.
Meanwhile Boland and Mpumalanga went all out for a third consecutive day. No doubt the B-Section log leaders will want to make the most of a fourth round bye before they face off in the final push for promotion at White River Country Club on Friday.
Central Gauteng scored a deciding 8 – 4 victory against Free State and drew 6-all against Western Province to regain the top spot in the A-Section standings.
The side leads the log on seven points, with Southern Cape in second and Ekurhuleni in third.
Southern Cape held on to second with 31.5 games after defeating Gauteng North 7.5 – 4.5, but a fourth round bye could open the door for Ekurhuleni, who have 27.5 games points in hand.
Ekurhuleni made a big statement in the second round with victories over Southern Cape and Free State and after enjoying a day off, the team will be fired up to take on log leaders Central Gauteng on Thursday.
Meanwhile Western Province rallied after three losses to grab three points.
The 2014 champions handed Free State a 9 – 3 drubbing and stretched a 2-all stalemate in the foursomes to a 6-all draw against Central Gauteng.
Samuel Simpson drew first blood for Western Province when he beat Kian Rose 5 & 4, Central Gauteng’s top order – Eric Wowor, Keelan van Wyk and Shaun Jones – reeled in three points to put the Lions ahead.
However, Hilmi Mallick and Jason Hale levelled the score and Craig Baba and Luke Pienaar halved their games to secure the draw for Western Province;
Boland is five for five through three rounds at White River Country Club after defeating Eastern Province 7 – 5.
Boland took a 3 – 1 lead into the singles and Riaan Rooi, Dandre Spies, Tyron Davidowitz and Daniel Cronje capitalized for four points to secure the victory.
However, the B-Section log leaders are still under pressure from Mpumalanga, who added three points to their tally on Wednesday to edge into a close second.
Mpumalanga hammered Limpopo 9.5 – 2.5 and squared their match against North West to finish with six points and 46 games points.
Mpumalanga squared their foursomes against North West, but buoyed by a clean sweep against Limpopo, Banele Mavuso, Ian Jacobs, Jacques du Preez and Ruan Groenewald guaranteed the four points the host union needed to draw with North West.
Mavuso, Du Preez, Groenewald, Jacques Brits, Cameron Borcher and Brandon Geere delivered the winning blows against Limpopo to put Mpumalanga firmly in the battle for promotion.
North West – despite handing Limpopo an 8.5 – 3.5 drubbing – lag five points behind Boland.
Even with two matches remaining against Border and Eastern Province, the best North West can hope for is second, which means that the battle for B-Section glory will go down the wire between Boland and Mpumalanga.
Both teams have their mandatory bye on Thursday, so watch out for an all-or-nothing fight to the end on Friday when the two sides meet in the final round.
A-SECTION Round Three Scores
Central Gauteng 6 vs Western Province 6
Western Province 9 vs Free State 3
Central Gauteng 8 vs Free State 4
Southern Cape 7.5 vs Gauteng North 4.5
1 Central Gauteng (4, 3, 1, 0, 7, 29)
2 Southern Cape (5, 3, 0, 2, 6, 31.5)
3 Ekurhuleni (4, 3, 0, 1, 6, 27.5)
4 Gauteng North (3, 2, 0, 1, 4, 18.5)
5 Western Province (5, 1, 1, 3, 3, 29)
6 KwaZulu-Natal (3, 1, 0, 2, 2, 18)
7 Free State (4, 0, 0, 4, 0, 14.5)
B-SECTION Round Three Scores
Boland 7 vs Eastern Province 5
North West 6 vs Mpumalanga 6
Mpumalanga 9.5 vs Limpopo 2.5
North West 8.5 vs Limpopo 3.5
1 Boland (5, 5, 0, 0, 10, 48.5)
2 Mpumalanga (5, 4, 1, 0, 9, 46)
3 North West (4, 2, 1, 1, 5, 27)
4 Eastern Province (3, 1, 0, 2, 2, 17.5)
5 Limpopo (4, 1, 0, 3, 2, 14.5)
6 Border (4, 0, 0, 4, 0, 10)
7 Northern Cape (3, 0, 0, 3, 0, 4.5)
Picture of Mallick courtesy of Image SA.