Western Province by no means made use of all the chances available to them, but they still kicked off their campaign on a winning note with a 5-0 victory over Free State, while Southern Gauteng, playing their B side, Wits, had to work very hard to break down the opposition defence in the first 25 minutes but ultimately cruised home 5-0 as well.
It was one-way traffic for Western Province from the opening exchanges, but the first goal only came on the stroke of the end of the first quarter as Roagnib Fredericks eventually bobbled in a deflected goal after great work down the left flank by James Drummond.
The second Western Province goal was a tap-in in the 21st minute for Pierre de Voux and the Capetonians then made it 3-0 at the halftime break when the impressive Lloyd Norris-Jones went ranging down the left wing and Shannon Boucher got on the end of the strong cross to the far post.
The outgunned Free Staters stuck gamely to their task and created the best chance of the third quarter, Lyndon Fredericks going narrowly wide from a short-corner following a good run by Melrick Maddocks.
Western Province then had their first two short-corners of the match, but both were unsuccessful.
It was Norris-Jones, who scored a hat-trick in last year’s IPT final, who then provided a study in clinical finishing as he put himself in space in the circle to score two well-taken goals in the last two minutes of the match.
The Panther brothers, Clinton and Brandon, scored two of the Southern Gauteng goals through super reverse-sticks shots, while Ricky West, who was also solid in defence, scored from a powerful short-corner flick and Brynn Cleak slotted a field goal.
Southern Gauteng’s women’s team also made a winning start to the defence of their title as they beat the SA U21 team 3-1 with internationals Bernie Coston and Shelley Russell having a major impact.
They scored the first two goals, but Southern Gauteng were given a stern examination as Tarryn Glasby scored one of the goals of the day for the SA U21s to cut the deficit to 2-1. Some fine saves by national goalkeeper Sanani Mangisa kept the juniors out thereafter though, and, with three minutes remaining, Sylvia van Jaarsveldt swept in the third goal after another fine run by Russell.
It was back to the drawing board for the Spar KZN Raiders, who were beaten 2-0 by the Northerns Blues.
A reverse-sticks strike by Welma Luus five minutes before halftime opened up the scoring, although Northerns had a number of short-corner chances which went begging, before Jacinta Jubb doubled the advantage and secured the victory in the 48th minute.
The men’s A-section clash between the SA U21s and KZN Raiders provided one of the highlights on the opening day and the teams couldn’t be split and ended up sharing the spoils with the scores locked at 1-1.
Ryan Williams slapped in from close range after the Kwa-Zulu Natal outfit had initiated a move down the right-hand side of the astro, but the junior national side hit their straps in the final quarter of the game and managed to build some momentum, Ryan Crowe making sure the game ended in a stalemate as he found the back of the net with six minutes to play.
Men’s A Division: Tuffy Western Province 5 (Roagnib Fredericks, Pierre de Voux, Shannon Boucher, Lloyd Norris-Jones ) Free State 0; SA U21 1 (Ryan Crowe) KZN Raiders 1 (Ryan Williams); Northerns Blues 3 (Tim Halle, Stephan van Vollenhoven, Grant Glutz) Eastern Province 4 (Chad Cairncross, Lyall Meyer, Ignatius Malgraff, Michael Abrahams); Southern Gauteng 5 (Clinton Panther, Gareth Heyns, Brandon Panther, Brynn Cleak, Ricky West).
Men’s B Division: WP Peninsula 6 (Reece Arendse , Luthando Jonas, Sebastian Golding, Brandon Hanekom, Warren McEwan) Eastern Gauteng 0; North-West 2 (Sinoxolo Mbekeni, Francois Cilliers) Northerns B 1 (Thomas Johnson); KZN Mynahs 3 (Dale van der Merwe, Brendon Smith, Nhlanhla Nyawu) SA Country Districts 0; KZN Inland 0 Zimbabwe 10 (Takunda Chipumha , Tendayi Maredza, Luckson Sikisa, Deon Wardley, Samuel Tagwireyi, Phillip Machaya , Edwin Tholanah .
Women’s A Division: Northerns Blues 2 (Welma Luus, Jacinta Jubb) Spar KZN Raiders 0; Free State 1 (Jo-Nelke Swanepoel) North-West 1 (Lori Hyde); Southern Gauteng 3 (Shelley Russell, Bernadette Coston, Sylvia van Jaarsveldt) SA U21 1 (Tarryn Glasby); Tuffy Western Province 3 (Farah Fredericks, Candice Manuel, Heather McEwan) Wits 0.
Women’s B Division: KZN Mynahs 7 (Pamela Daniel , Stacey Hiron , Jamie Chisholm) Northerns B 1 (Janie Porteous); SA Country Districts 4 (Wilna Phillips , Leani van der Merwe, Hettie Trollip) Mpumalanga 3 (Shannia-Lee Swart ); WP Peninsula 4 (Danielle Cairns, Kayde Miller, Nicole Bartsch, Georgia Grobler) Zimbabwe 2 (Jessica Hilton-Barber, Nicolle Grant); KZN Inland 3 (Tiffany Jones , Silindile Mbhele) Southern Gauteng Nuggets 0.
Text: Ken Borland