We obviously have to start at the most obvious place this morning and that is with the two semi-finals in the A section. It was an incredible atmosphere at the Riverside Sports Club as the opening match between Southern Gauteng and North West got underway. North West could not have asked for a better start as National skipper Sulette Damons finished off a fourth-minute penalty corner to give the lead to Shaun Hulley’s side. Southerns also knew that should they push they would open themselves to the devastating counter of North West and the finishing ability of Dirkie Chamberlain was in wait. But as we have seen from Southern Gauteng over the years, they have probably the best BMT in the country and they know how to win semi-finals. They pulled level through their skipper Robyn Johnson just before half-time. And in the 49th minutes Lilian du Plessis, in front of the National selectors, reminded everyone how good a finisher she is. Southerns would see out the game and see themselves into another IPT final.
Tuffy Western Province then took on Northerns Blues and the odds must surely have been stacked against them. The Blues had not conceded a goal in winning five out of five, they had the best keeper in goals in Phumi Mbande and a defensive line led by the other co-national skipper Nicolene Terblanche. Tuffy Western Province has some big names themselves but had not really impressed in the group stages, squeezing through only on goal difference. But tournament hockey is much like a boxing match, you need to land the right punch at the right time. Tarryn Glasby seemed to do that by netting as early as the seventh minute to leave the Blues trailing for the first time in the tournament. Jade Mayne was marshalling her troops in a superb display of leadership and they managed to hold out until the dynamo that is Natalie Esteves scored to pull level. Despite chances at both ends, it would end that way and the game would be decided in Showdowns.
Izelle Verster & Natalie Esteves (Northerns Blues) and Tarryn Glasby (Tuffy WP) started the showdowns with three consecutive misses, or saves rather, before Quanita Bobbs breached Mbande’s goal. Nicolene Terblanche equalised immediately before Candice Manuel and Megan Anderson were both denied. Mayne then scored for Tuffy WP to make it 2-1 with one showdown left. Anel Luus had to score and she did. 2-2. Final shot. Up steps Kelsey Bailey. Facing Phumi Mbande. She sets off. She turns. She shoots. She scores! Tuffy Western Province are through to the final!
In the B Section Border steal a final spot but knew that victory for SG Nuggets would take the spot away. Instead, the Nuggets played out a heartbreaking 1-1 draw with the KZN Robins to miss out on the final, while SACD A then saw off SACD B to leapfrog Border on goal difference. They will now take their spot in the final against the unbeaten Northern Daisies. All results from the day are in the graphic below. It’s all set up for the final later today!
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