The difference was essentially the brilliant finishing of WP striker Lloyd Norris-Jones who stunned the big hockey crowd with three breath-taking first-half goals.

Norris-Jones opened the scoring in the sixth minute off a penalty corner variation.

In the 15th minute the fleet-footed marksman took advantage of a counter-attack after concerted Southerns pressure to make it 2-0 with a world-class strike.

Southerns then had six chances to WP’s three during the remainder of the second quarter but once again it was Norris-Jones who delivered a lesson in lethal finishing on the cusp of half-time (30th minute) for a memorable hat-trick.

Southerns keeper Rassie Pieterse made two top saves soon after half-time to match WP shot-stopper Jacques le Roux’s outstanding work in the first half.

Southerns then had a purple patch for the rest of the third quarter but couldn’t breach the WP defence.

The goal finally came for Southerns in the 50th minute, with 10 minutes left, after the pacey Julian Hykes earned a penalty corner. Lance Louw delivered the corner injection, Gonsalves effected the trap at the top of the strike zone and Miguel da Graca sent the ball soaring into the net.

Southerns got in two direct shots in the last 10 minutes, while Pieterse made a fine save from Pierre de Voux but Southerns’ dominance in the dying minutes could not be converted into the goals they so desperately needed.

The title match - umpired by South Africa’s John Wright and Deon Nel - was in good hands. Wright has officiated in 198 Test matches and Nel 105. Both are recipients of the prestigious FIH Golden Whistle. Wright has umpired in an Olympic Games final and three World Cup finals.

The playoff for third and fourth positions saw Northern Blues beat South Africa U21 2-0 after the host province had led 1-0 at Half-time.

Tim Guise-Brown opened the scoring for Northern Blues with a PC in the 16th minute. SA U21 had a great chance to equalise in the 27th but Ryan Crowe’s effort from the penalty spot cannoned into the crossbar and stayed out.

Blues had a gilt-edged opportunity in the 39th but despite numerous shots from a PC the SA U21 lads defended well.

SA U21 keeper Rob McKinley blocked Hendy Seerane soon after. And 12 minutes from time Nick Berichon – with a superb run along the right baseline - set up a golden opportunity for Blues, but a combination of the outstanding SA juniors keeper McKinley, and inept finishing, ensured the scoreline remained the same.

McKinley made another top save to deny the skilful Richard Pautz but the goal had to come and appropriately it was the wonderful skill of Stephen Cant that delivered the goods, young Dario Lourenco getting the tap-in four minutes from the end (56th minute).

KZN Raiders won the battle for fifth place 3-2 over Eastern Province after the Durban lads led 2-1 at the changeover.

Raiders opened the scoring in the fourth minute when Dan Sibbald surged through the right channel and crossed for Jarryd Jones to tap in.

EP drew level in the seventh minute when Cerezo Comerasammy netted at the far post. Raiders regained the lead in the 19th when Jones coolly flicked in the rebound off the keeper at a penalty corner.

This exciting encounter, which featured some fine individual skills at times, was again level-all after 40 minutes when EP captain Lyall Meyer slipped the ball left off a PC for Dalan Phillips to finish clinically.

In the earlier matches, the first round of playoffs for ninth to 12th positions was a goal fest. Raiders’ winning goal came 10 minutes from the end (50th) when the consistent Greg Last scored from a PC.

The tussle for seventh place saw South Gauteng Wits score some great goals in beating Western Province Peninsula – last year’s champions – 6-2 after being ahead 3-1 at the break.

Kyle Marks in particular netted a stunning goal, Wits’ fourth, in the 36th minute, with the Gautengers’ other goals going to Alridge Louw, Dean Symons (2), Thabang Modise and Gerald Mpopo. Pens found the net via the sticks of Ben Wiley and Warren McEwan.

Free State finished ninth after beating KZN Inland 4-2 after a goalless first half. A rousing affair between two well-matched sides it was not without controversy.

Prolific striker Kurt Hensberg bagged a brace for the Bloemfontein boys, the other goals going to captain Brett Walraven and Michael Baiden. Dave Gerrard and Damian Kimfley – with a spectacular goal-shot - scored for Inland.

KZN Mynahs beat North West 4-2 to finish 11th.

The second-tier B Section was won by Northerns B.

A Section (11th/12th) KZN Mynahs 4 North West 2; (9th/10) Free State 4 KZN Inland 2; (7th/8th) SG Wits 6 WP Peninsula 2; (5th/6th) KZN Raiders 3 EP 2; (3rd/4th) Northern Blues 2 SA U21 0; (Final) WP 3 Southern Gauteng 1.
B Section results: SA Country Districts 4 Northern Cape 2; Northerns B 5 Eastern Gauteng 1.
B Section final log (goal difference, points): 1 Northerns B 9GD 10pts; 2 SACD 1GD 9pts; 3 Namibia 2GD 7pts; 4 Eastern Gauteng -2GD 3pts; 5 Northern Cape -6GD 0pts.