Free State provided some anxious times early on for the KZN Raiders in their men’s A Section match at the Greenfields Senior Interprovincial Nationals on Tuesday, but it was only a moment of brevity as the KwaZulu-Natalians roared to a 6-1 victory in the end.
Free State started strongly and so nearly claimed the first goal when Dylan Swanepoel rocketed a short-corner drag-flick off the post in the second minute. But gradually the competitiveness of the Free Staters waned and the KZN Raiders in the end put together a very good performance to bounce back from their 1-1 draw with the SA U21s on the opening day.
They opened the scoring in the eighth minute when a fine cross by Mohammed Mea was expertly met and deflected into goal by Travis Hardnick.
The rest of the first half went well for KZN as they added two more impressive goals.
Stephen Wiggett showed the talents of an ace goal-poacher as he seemed to have so much time to rob the ball off a defender’s stick and slam it into the goal all in one stroke for the Raiders’ second goal, and Jethro Eustice, who did invaluable work in midfield, then flicked home well from a short-corner to make it 3-0 after 20 minutes.
Daniel Sibbald was inches away from scoring the goal of the tournament thus far when his reverse-sticks shot came off the post, the international having started the move just outside his own 25 with a superb run.
But the third quarter was a better one for Free State as they pulled a goal back through Darren Kamfer, before normal service was resumed in the final quarter and KZN Raiders scored three more goals.
Ross Hetem set up and finished the first with a fine overhead across the circle to Jarryd Jones, who cut back and then passed back to Hetem, who slotted home a good reverse-sticks finish.
Jones scored the last goal on the final hooter, with a slap high into the net after a short-corner, with Wiggett getting his second goal five minutes earlier with a well-struck angled shot.
In earlier games in the women’s B Section, there were comfortable wins for defending champions WP Peninsula, Zimbabwe and Northerns B.
Nicole Bartsch scored twice for Peninsula as they beat SA Country Districts 8-1, as did Michelle Williams for Zimbabwe in their 4-1 win over Mpumalanga.
Northerns B gained some consolation for their 7-1 hammering at the hands of the KZN Mynahs on the first day as they beat Southern Gauteng Nuggets 3-0.