In the men’s competition there are seven teams playing a round-robin with the top two featuring in Saturday’s 7pm final at Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High School (GHS).

The women’s event has 10 teams in two pools of five. The semi-finals featuring the top two teams in each pool take place at 11am and 12 noon Saturday with the title match at 6pm, all at GHS.

One of the notable men’s clashes on day one saw KZN Inland A beat Southern Gauteng 4-1 after leading 3-1 at half-time, Kegan Walters striking twice. Indicative of the fierceness of the contest, five sin-bin cards were dished out by experienced umpires Ayden Shrives and Sven Mulder.

For the most part, the women’s matches saw fancied teams from the bigger hockey centres register decisive wins, but the experience of playing against a quality of opposition seldom encountered at home was not lost on the spirited Eastern Gauteng and Mpumalanga women, as well as the feisty Mpumalanga lads in the men’s division.

It’s also been tough going for the KZN Inland men’s and women’s B teams but it was clear, having chatted to some of them, that the likes of Lee-Roy Storm, Ndumiso Mncwango, Lauren Parfitt and Nomzi Zulu were loving every minute of the experience rubbing shoulders with 2015 Indoor Hockey World Cup internationals such as Justin Domleo and Jess O’Connor.

One hard-fought women’s encounter saw Southern Gauteng outlast North West 4-2 after enjoying a commanding 4-1 advantage at the changeover. Southerns’ first three goals came within 13 minutes of the start, exciting St Mary’s Waverley schoolgirl Hannah Pearce netting twice.

The three evening clashes at the YMCA produced thrilling encounters.

First up, the Western Province men edged Southern Gauteng 3-2 after shading the Johannesburg lads 2-1 at half-time. WP skipper Dale Isaac nailed down two sharp finishes with Craig Hailey adding the other goal. Dylan Piatti bagged a brace for Southerns.

Next up was the face-off between reigning women’s champs KZN Inland A and North West, the Potchefstroom ladies’ excellent 3-0 half-time lead discounting a spirited comeback by the host province. Pietermaritzburg-raised Celia Evans breached the goalline twice for North West.

Bringing down the curtain in fitting fashion was the much-anticipated KZN derby between defending men’s champions KZN Inland A and Durbanites KZN Raiders – and the expectation was matched in spades by what was the clash of the day.

Raiders prevailed 3-1 in this exhilarating contest after being 2-1 up at the break. Taine Paton nailed a field goal while Raiders captain Matt Fairweather and Jethro Eustice weighed in with penalty corners. A Kegan Walters effort from field play reflected Inland’s goal.

Some of Friday’s matches holding promise of quality, hotly-contested affairs see, in the men’s section, WP versus Mynahs (YMCA 10am), Raiders against Southerns (YMCA 1pm), Inland A versus Mynahs (GHS 3pm) and Raiders facing WP (GHS 7pm).

Women’s matches to look forward to in particular Friday see Spar KZN Raiders against Ghost (GHS 12 noon), Southerns versus Mynahs (GHS 1pm), North West facing Mynahs (YMCA 5pm), Spar Raiders versus WP (YMCA 6pm) and Inland A up against Southerns (YMCA 7pm).

The Ghost Women’s Team is a tournament invitation side drawn from players across the country not selected or unavailable for their provinces, as well as players whose provinces are not represented at IPT.

A mix of experience and young talent, Ghost feature players of calibre such as dual outdoor and indoor national goalkeeper Hanli Hattingh, Karen Bowyer and Kaelin Hartog.

Southern Gauteng 3 KZN Mynahs 2; KZN Raiders 7 KZN Inland B 0; Mynahs 10 Mpumalanga 1; Western Province 5 Inland B 0; KZN Inland A 4 Southern Gauteng 1; Mynahs 5 Inland B 1; WP 3 Southern Gauteng 2; Raiders 3 Inland A 1.
Women: Ghost Team 6 Inland B 1; Mynahs 8 Mpumalanga 1; Southern Gauteng 4 North West 2; Spar KZN Raiders 15 Inland B 0; WP 7 East Gauteng 1; Inland A 4 Mynahs 0; Spar Raiders 12 East Gauteng 0; Southern Gauteng 4 Mpumalanga 0; WP 6 Ghost 1; North West 3 Inland A 2.

(Matches played in brackets, goal difference, points)
Men: KZN Raiders (2) 9GD, 6pts; WP (2) 6GD, 6pts; KZN Mynahs (3) 12GD, 6pts; KZN Inland A (2) 1GD 3pts; Southern Gauteng (3) -3GD, 3pts; Mpumalanga (1) -9GD, 0pts; KZN Inland B (3) -16GD, 0pts.
(All played two)
Pool A: Southern Gauteng 6GD, 6pts; KZN Inland A 3GD, 3pts; KZN Mynahs 3GD, 3pts; North West -1GD, 3pts; Mpumalanga -11GD, 0pts.
Pool B: Spar KZN Raiders 27GD, 6pts; WP 11GD, 6pts; Ghost 0GD, 3pts; Eastern Gauteng -18GD; KZN Inland B -20GD, 0pts.