SA U21 top Pool A with on goal difference from Northern Blues, while Pool B has WP in front of arch-rivals Southern Gauteng, also on goal difference.
In Wednesday’s late game, Blues shaded KZN Raiders 2-1 after the teams were on level terms at 1-1 at the half-time whistle.
Blues took the lead in the seventh minute via a PC, which was converted by Richard Pautz. Four minutes into the second quarter (19th minute), Raiders equalised with a superbly executed PC.
Jonty Robinson injected the ball from the baseline at considerable pace, Mohammed Mea trapped it neatly at the top of the strike zone and Greg Last finished off in style to make the scoreline 1-1.
Tim Guise-Brown got the winner for Blues from a PC eight minutes (52nd) from the end.
In Pool B, frontrunners WP and Southern Gauteng maintained their 100% success rate.
WP beat a competitive South Gauteng Wits 5-1 after leading 2-0 at half-time. The Capetonians’ goals went to striker Lloyd Norris-Jones (2), Shannon Boucher, Keenan Horne and a magnificent finish by Jason Mulder, while Wits’ Winchester Scott got on the scoresheet four minutes after the changeover.
Eastern Province chalked up their first win with a nail-biting 3-2 triumph over luckless Free State. EP, who led 3-0 after 30 minutes, netted three very good goals from field play by Cerezo Comerasamy, Dalan Philips and Joshua August. Free State fought back in characteristic fashion to convert two penalty corners, the successes coming via the sticks of Jaco Fourie and Kurt Hensburg.
Southern Gauteng, who were untidy in their first two games despite earning full points, showed signs that they are getting their game plan right. The Johannesburgers outplayed a gutsy North West to the tune of 7-0 after leading 5-0 at the interval.
Six of the seven goals were scored from the penalty corner set-piece, with Gareth Heyns in lethal mood, the drag-flick exponent netting a hat-trick. Luke Sanan, Lance Louw and Taylor Dart also found the back of the net off PCs while Nick Spooner scored the lone field goal.
Western Province Peninsula, the defending champs, were involved in a dramatic match with the South Africa U21 combination, the three goals in the match coming in the space of four hectic minutes early in the second quarter.
Tempers flared and threatened to boil over at stages but the SA juniors’ 2-0 lead was good enough for a 2-1 win. All three goals in this intense match came from field play, SA U21 scoring through Stephen McManus and Bili Ntuli. Pens’ Warren McEwan was the Western Cape side’s goalscorer.
In what was something of a surprise in its emphatic outcome, KZN Inland enjoyed a purple patch in the third quarter against KZN Mynahs to rattle up a 6-1 victory, this after the scores were locked 1-1 at half-time.
The talented St Charles College schoolboy Luke Barnard got a brace for Inland with the other goals going to captain Gavin Jelley (2), Brent Troskie and Damian Kimfley. Dale van der Merwe scored Mynahs’ solitary goal from a penalty corner.
Meanwhile in the second-tier B Section which is taking place at St Albans College, the first day saw coach Trevor Cormack’s Namibia come back from a 1-0 deficit at half-time to record a 4-2 victory over Northern Cape. Northern Cape’s Desmond de Koker opened the scoring in the 10th minute but once the Windhoek-based lads had settled down, they were dominant.
Namibia’s goals were netted by Isacar Tjikuniva, Billy Beukes, captain Brynn Cleak and Russell Bartlett. Northern Cape skipper Lyndon Fredericks got a consolation goal from the penalty spot with five minutes to go.
Northerns B had an Ashley Kemp hat-trick to thank for their 4-0 defeat of SA Country Districts. Northerns B led 1- at half-time, their remaining goal nailed down by Thomas Hobson.
The key match in the B Section, which could well be the most decisive of the competition, features Namibia against Northerns B at 11am Wednesday.
A Section (at Tuks Astro): Tuffy WP 5 SG Wits 1; EP 3 Free State 2; Southern Gauteng 7 North West 0; SA U21 2 WP Pens 1; KZN Inland 6 KZN Mynahs 1; Northern Blues 2 KZN Raiders 1.
A SECTION LOGS
(All played 3. Goal difference, points)
Pool A: 1 SA U21 2GD 7 pts; 2 Northern Blues 7GD, 6 pts; 3 WP Pens 6GD, 6 pts; 4 KZN Raiders 5GD, 4 pts; 5 KZN Inland -4GD, 3 pts; 6 KZN Mynahs -16GD 0 pts.
Pool B: 1 WP 21GD, 9 pts; 2 Southern Gauteng 11GD, 9 pts; 3 SG Wits 2GD, 6 pts; 4 EP -7GD, 3 pts; 5 Free State -4GD 0 pts; 6 North West -23GD, 0 pts.~
B Section (at St Albans): Namibia 4 Northern Cape 2; Northerns B 4 SA Country Districts 0; Eastern Gauteng (bye).
A Section (at Tuks Astro): 09h15 Southern Gauteng vs SG Wits; 11h00 EP vs North West; 12h45 WP Pens vs KZN Raiders; 14h30 WP vs Free State; 16h15 SA U21 vs KZN Mynahs; 18h00 Northern Blues vs KZN Inland.
B Section (at St Albans): 09h15 SACD vs Eastern Gauteng; 11h00 Namibia vs Northerns B.