The first two days of the 2018 IPT, fantastically organised by SPAR KZN Hockey, had really gone to script with Eastern Province securing a draw against Free State being the only result that blotted the coffee book so far. That would see a change in a remarkable opening game of the third day as Tuffy Western Province took on the Free State side.
Tuffy Western Province can call on an incredible five national players in their starting eleven and were always considered strong favourites against a side featuring only Nicole Walraven from the National squad. But under Luke Makaleni, the Free State girls have shown tremendous heart and combined with great skill look a fantastic unit.
Tuffy Western Province took the early lead with a goal by Aimee-Leigh Pote and a second from Quanita Bobbs making it 2-0 in the first quarter, a score that would remain to half-time. Some inspirational words must have been shared, or some hairdryers were thrown, as Free State emerged a different team and took the game to the Tuffy WP side. Cornelle Holtzhausen, fast becoming a name we will all remember, put home a penalty corner in the third quarter and levelled the game just four minutes later.
Both sides pushed for the winner in this classic match, which at times was reminiscent of a boxing match heading to the 12th round, counter punches were thrown and both teams were desperate to land one. In the 54th minute, it was Free State who did through Jo-Neike Swanepoel finishing a field goal to give Free State the biggest win of the tournament so far and put all the pressure on Tuffy Western province to try and make the top 4!
In the battle of the “B” Teams, it was the host province that triumphed as Amy Greaves, the skipper of the KZN Mynahs, slotted home a penalty corner to secure the victory for the Mynahs over WP Pens. Southern Gauteng managed another straightforward victory as they got another brace from Sylvia van Jaarsveldt and Lisa-Marie Deetlefs. The Johannesburg ladies are looking good ahead of their two crunch matches against Free State and Western Province.
The SA Invitational under 21 side came up against the inspired Charlize Swanepoel, but the weight of opportunities could not be denied. Hannah Pearce’s brace was supported by goals by Stephanie Botha, Sare Laubscher, and Teagan Fourie. Teagan took a blow to the head and was undergoing tests to evaluate her availability for the remainder of the tournament.
The clash of two unbeaten sides in Northern Blues and North West was the most anticipated game of the day and after a sluggish start, the game started to grow into its stature. After a few chances for North West, who were without Dirkie Chamberlain, it was the Northern Blues who got the game’s opening goal through Carmen Smith. They would never relinquish the lead, rather extending it through Anel Luus and Natalie Esteves. The game was shadowed by a knee injury to SA Hockey player of the year 2016, Celia Evans, with the entire South African supporter brace hoping for good news.
The final game of the night saw the hosts the SPAR KZN Raiders romp to an early 3-0 lead before taking their foot off the pedal and seeing out the game without too much stress. Jacinta Jubb once again popped up with two goals before Amy Etherington made it 3. The SG Witsies side did fight back and pulled one goal back at the end of the third quarter through Sissy Pieterse. They were unable to add to that though and it ended 3-1.
SPAR KZN Raiders and Northern Blues lead pool A with maximum points, with North West sitting in third place. Over in Pool B its Southern Gauteng with a full house being chased by Free State (7 pts.) and Western Province (6). Tomorrow morning Southern Gauteng take on Free State in the opening game while KZN Raiders will play North West later in the day.
In the B Section Border bounced back with a 3-1 win over the SG Nuggets, who themselves then also bounced back with a 1-0 win over SACD B. SACD A mauled the KZN Inland ladies 8-0 and the final game was a 1-0 win for the Northern Daisies against KZN Robins.
What it means is that Northern Daisies lead the table with 2 from 2 and are followed by SACD A and SG Nuggets, who have both played 3 games.
You can follow daily updates on SA Hockey or check out the Tournament Management site through https://saha.altiusrt.com/competitions/25#matches
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