The ambitions of the Tuffy Western Province men’s side took a knock in the A-section of the Greenfields Senior Interprovincial Nationals as they went down 3-2 to the South Africa Under-21 side at the Randburg Hockey Stadium on Tuesday.
The defending champions had begun their title defence with a comfortable victory on the opening day of the competition but were brought back to earth by the brave youngsters.
Ryan Crowe handed SA Under-21 the lead with through a field goal before Western Province struck back thanks to an Austin Smith drag-flick from a penalty corner.
There was a break in play as a passing thundershower led to a waterlogged astroturf, pushing the remainder of the day’s games back, but play eventually resumed with the sides locked at one-all.
Another field goal, this time by Khumo Mokale, helped SA Under-21 regain the lead before a penalty stroke in the 40th minute from Kyle Lion-Cachet sealed the victory although Western province managed to close the gap with four minutes to play as Smith added another from a short corner.
The Tuffy Western Province women’s side were also left with points to ponder from their game against Northerns Blues with the encounter ending 1-1.
The early exchanges were dominated by Northerns as they created a number of chances and pressured the Western Province defence. Had it not been for Nicole Le Fleur they may have been down a goal earlier with the goalkeeper keeping out a Jacinta Jubb effort from a penalty corner out in the ninth minute.
But Jubb managed to break the deadlock two minutes before halftime with a powerful poke from a short corner hurtling into the backboard.
But the lead was short-lived as Western Province struck back and while both sides fought hard for the lead in the third and fourth quarters the goals never came. It was made worse by the fact that both sides were left to rue a number of missed short corner opportunities.
In the other men’s A-section game that was affected by the cloud burst, Witsies bounced back to winning ways with a 2-1 victory over Eastern Province.
A Nic Gonsalves brace, the first coming via a field goal in the 19th minute and the second from a brilliantly worked short-corner option in the 22nd, saw Witsies take a 2-0 lead.
The deficit was cut down by a Cody van Wyk field goal but his Eastern Province side were unable to find a way through and suffered their first defeat after beating Northerns on day one.