There was almost a case of deja vu for the Southern Gauteng women’s side but a goal nine minute from time earned them a berth in the final of the Greenfields Senior Interprovincial Nationals at Randburg Hockey Stadium on Friday.
The hosts were forced into a shootout in their quarterfinal earlier in the week and it looked as if their last four match-up against KZN Raiders was heading the same way before a goal, eight minutes from time, by Taryn Mallett handed them a 1-0 win.
But it should have been more, especially when you take into account just how much of the possession Southerns held and the number of short corner opportunities they were able to create as a result.
In the 52 minutes leading up to the game’s solitary goal, Southern Gauteng were able to make a number of circle entries and have shots on goal with Toni Marks in particular proving a handful to the Raiders defence.
But as good as Marks was at getting herself into space and firing shots at goal so to was Raiders shot-stopper Cherie Greyvenstein at deflecting danger away and her efforts.
Penalty corners third and fifth minute of the game didn’t go to plan and by the time Southerns earned their eighth shortie of the contest you felt that if they weren’t going to get that one right then they never would.
But a well-worked variation saw the ball set up nicely for Mallett and she struck home the advantage and Southerns ran down the clock to book their final berth.
Most of the game was spent inside the Raiders half and the Kwa-Zulu Natal outfit only managed to create two clear cut opportunities, once from a short corner, and the other in open play.
It seemed as if they’d hammered home the advantage in the third quarter, scoring from a penalty corner, but umpire Michelle Joubert ruled that there was obstructive running and Southerns were off the hook.
The only other Raiders chance came at the end of the third chukka as Kylie Oosthuizen got on the end of a brilliant feed into the circle by captain Kara-Lee Stella but her deflected effort sailed over the crossbar.
While the Southerns defence was miserly in providing the opposition with opportunities to break into their territory it was the reverse at the other end with the home side making a number of runs into the circle.
There was, however, a period where both sides were guilty of giving away possession too easily which detracted somewhat from the spectacle involving two of the best ladies sides in the tournament.
Don’t forget that all the matches taking place on the main field at the Randburg Hockey Stadium are being streamed live on Friday and Saturday via this link http://antcast.antfarm.co.za/sahockey/April_2016_01/