It was easy as you like for the KZN Raiders men as they ran out comfortable 5-2 winners against Northern Blues in the bronze medal match at the Greenfields Senior Interprovincial Nationals at the Randburg Hockey Stadium on Saturday.
In the space of two hours both Raiders outfits were able to pick up third-place finishes at the country’s marquee hockey tournament and provided a positive ending to their respective campaigns. Both sides played good hockey throughout the week but just not doing enough to reach the A-section finals both knocked out by hosts Southern Gauteng in the semfinals.
But the Kwa-Zulu Natal outfits made a return to winning ways, the men cruising against their opposition while the women’s side ended up 3-1 winners. The scoreline suggests a comfortable victory they were put under pressure at times by a plucky North West outfit.
The Raiders women were able to open the scoring in the sixth minute through Kerry Pearton but North West closed the gap soon after as Danielle de Wet pegged back the deficit. But Raiders managed to score on the stroke of halftime, Courtney du Preez converting from a short corner, to take a 2-1 lead into the break.
Although they managed to test the North West defence on a number of occasions, with Kate Koenig proving to be a particular headache, but they were unable to convert their chances but a Kylie Oosthuizen goal four minutes from time secured them a well-deserved victory.
It was a different story for the Raiders men’s side as they ran riot against Northerns Blues scoring in the fourth minute as Damien Kimfly found himself unmarked in the circle. The advantage was doubled as Keagan Robinson tapped in after brilliant passing between Raiders sticks.
Nine minutes later and a Greg Last penalty stroke, the captain just beating the keeper who got stick on it, ensuring his took a 3-0 lead into the break.
It was more of the same after the changeover as Jethro Eustice got on the scoresheet before Cameron Mackay added a goal of his own.
It wasn’t so much a fightback as a chance to restore some parity for Northerns as they added two late goals, one by Grant Glutz and another from Mark Halliday, to make it 5-2 but the reality was that they were comprehensively outplayed.
In other A-section results, the Witises men managed to fight back and force a three all draw against Free State and then winning the ensuing shootout to make sure they avoided the wooden spoon.
In the women’s draw, the South Africa Under-21 side ran Western Province off their feet, scoring twice in the first half before adding three more after the break for a 5-0 win to claim fifth spot.