In 2017 the KZN Raiders romped to the title dismissing all before them. 12 months later and the team looked significantly different. Of the 11 to feature in the tournament in Durban last year, 9 were not available leaving only Jarryd Jones and Greg Last. A host of players that featured for the Mynahs last year, finishing fifth, took the step up including Keegan Hezlett, Jayson Reed and Jonty Robinson. The remaining spots were filled by young debutants. The chances of a fourth consecutive title and the unheralded double double (back-to-back indoor and outdoor IPT champions) were a lot lower. And then they started the tournament with a defeat.
But slowly and surely game by game Cameron Mackay’s team started growing in stature and composure and when they beat Pens in the semi-final it set up a third consecutive final against Southern Gauteng.
Keegan Hezlett, who had a fine goal-scoring tournament, got the early lead for Raiders. Chad Futcher, the Southern Gauteng captain, pulled a goal back and his form in this tournament deserved a title. Unfortunately, his team mates could not keep their composure and at times appeared more interested in arguing decisions than playing indoor hockey. The Raiders took advantage of this mindset and after Hezlett got his second the Jarryd Jones show started. The World Cup star was everywhere making tackles, interceptions, through balls, key passes and finishes. In the space of three minutes he took the game away from Southern Gauteng with another two goals.
After a delay to the start of the second half, the Raiders continued their dominance and South Africa’s indoor hockey superstar Jarryd Jones completed his hat-trick with a beautiful finish. There was also time for a Jason Flanagan goal and a Cameron Goodwin masterclass in goals, before Julian Hykes missed a stroke too.
Chad Futcher was the scorer of the last goal of the tournament and he was honestly a superbly bright spot on a dark night for Southern Gauteng. The game was over, and the unfancied Raiders had their hands on a historic double-double.
Bronze medal was won by Namibia who were outstanding throughout with Liam Hermanus and Cody van der Merwe getting the attention of all the South African fans. Trevor Cormack is a man who coaches with class and his team are performing in much the same way.
Fourth was Pens, fifth was Northern Blues, sixth was WP, seventh PSI WP Invitational (With 16-year-old Mustapha Cassiem starring), Mpumalanga 8th, Eastern Gauteng 9th and the KZN Mynahs 10th.
Jarryd Jones was obviously named player of the tournament while Sizwe Mtembu (Northern Blues) was named goalkeeper of the tournament.