Although on paper both SPAR South Africa ladies and Tops @ SPAR South African men were comfortable favourites, they may have been given a little surprise in the morning games by the skill and tenacity shown by their Zimbabwean counterparts.
Both the mens and womens Zimbabwe sides were playing test indoor hockey for the first time in over 20 years. The SPAR South African ladies dominated the first half as their neighbours took time to grow into the game and at half time held a 6 goal lead with Heather McEwan completing a hat-trick, the first of the tournament.
A much better performance in the second half by Zimbabwe, inspired by their captain and keeper Jamie Haasbroek kept the scoreline respectable and ultimately the game ended 7-0 in favour of the SPAR SA ladies.
The TOPS @ SPAR BlitzStoks were impressed by the Zimbabwean players with some great running and hands and when Zimbabwean hockey legend Tendayi Maredza scored to give Zim the lead it was their first International Indoor goal for more than 20 years. This sparked the Tops @SPAR BlitzStoks into action and a hat-trick from Olympian Wade Paton gave the lads a 3-1 half time lead.
Zimbabwe scored a goal early in the second half and with just 10 minutes remaining had four penalty corners in a row to try and level, but were unsuccessful and soon conceded a fourth. After this it was one way traffic for Pierre le Roux’s men as Keagan Robinson led the rout and ultimately a very comfortable 10-2 victory.
If the Zimbabwe game was the starter, then both the South African sides knew that Namibia would be the main course. The Namibian women have been developing well, ironically thanks to Lennie Botha’s interest in developing them to help African Hockey further, coupled with their involvement in PSi.
The Women’s match was a battle of physicality and was a tough encounter that threatened to boil over once or twice due to the physical nature of the game. The Namibians looked keen to soak in the pressure before launching counter attacks and had numerous opportunities but were let down by poor decision making and poor discipline!
After the score was level at 1-1 just before half time both keepers upped their games and produced fine displays to keep the scoring down, but South Africa underline their supremacy with some outstanding team goals, the highlight of which was Amy Greaves little dink over Stoffberg. The victory gave the ladies domination of the group and one foot into the final!
The TOPS @ SPAR BlitzStoks were expected to roll over their Namibian opposition, but any team marshalled by Trevor Cormack is going to be a tough team. In front of a decent home crowd the Namibians produced probably their finest display in a test match and were 3-1 up with just 5 minutes remaining on the clock. SA would fight back with Ryan Julius netting a fantastic goal and then with just 25 seconds on the clock Justin Domleo, who is struggling with illness, showed his class with great work that allowed Rusten Abrahams to nick the ball in and save the draw for the lads. It was Rustens first International goal on a day when he joined Reza Rosenberg and Wade Paton in getting their first official test cap for SA Indoor Hockey!
Today the games are repeated and the job is simple, make sure we are in the final on Sunday where everything is on the line.
Day 1 Scores – Ladies
SA 7 (McEwan 3, Hack 2 & Reed 2)
SA 4 (McEwan, O’Connor, Botes & Greaves)
Namibia 1 (Venter)
Namibia 3 (Hermanus, Mengo & Boshoff)
Zimbabwe 1 (Grant)
Day 1 Scores – Men
SA 10 (Paton 3, Robinson 3, Fairweather, Domleo, Eustice & Rosenberg)
Zimbabwe 2 (Maredza & Tembo)
SA 3 (Abrahams, Julius & Paton)
Namibia 3 (Jacobs, Martins & Cleak)
Namibia 8 (Barltett 3, Tjikuniva, Martins, Hansen & Jacobs 2)
Zimbabwe 3 (Tembo, Maredza & Tholanah)