After 6 days and 36 matches we are left with the final two contesting the Gold medal match. The defending champions the KZN Raiders will take on Southern Gauteng to decide who reigns supreme in SA Men’s Hockey.
The Raiders won their way to the final with a comfortable 3-1 victory over Southern Gauteng Witsies. Witsies would have looked to maintain a tight back wall to start the game, but it took Raiders just 7 minutes before International Taine Paton finished spun and fired the tomahawk into the bottom corner. A period of domination then followed with Raiders unable to create too many goal scoring chances although they were bossing the possession.
As the minutes ticked by the Raiders continued in their possession bossing and were left disappointed when umpire Peter Wright ruled off a goal for the strike being outside the D. It took a view reviews on the Video Analysis computer after the game to decide that it was the right call, much to the relief of Wright. Raiders did gain their second early in the second quarter when Andrew Manson finished superbly after great work by Bili Ntuli.
The crowd may have expected a massive fight back from Wits, who definitely were better in the second half, but their fans had to wait till the last minute of the game for Kyle-Lion Cachet to fire into the bottom corner and spring a spark of hope that was quickly doused by Damian Kimfley firing in past Brett Walraven who was playing kicking back after the withdrawal of Gary Cooper.
In the second semi-final the game was ultimately decided on a massive swing at a pivotal moment. Southern Gauteng's Matt Brown had already given the favourites the lead, but Northerns Blues were presented with an opportunity to equalise when they were awarded a stroke. Rassie Pieterse however came up tops as he stuck out his long legs to get a toe to the ball. Southerns broke up the field in the next play and scored through experienced Tommy Hammond to not just take the wind out of the Northerns sails but drag a knife right through the centre of them.
Although Northerns never stopped running at their Gauteng neighbours, including a superb break led by Tevin Kok, they could not take advantage of their chances. Southerns on the other hand were superb as Courtney Halle, one of the first picks in the 2018 PHL Draft, made it 3-0 and Julian Hykes, who is in some great form, made it 4-0 after one of those trademark runs from skipper Miguel da Graca.
It’s all set for a classic final between the two best teams in the county. It hits off at 17:00 tonight.
In the days other games, a Rhett Halket Penalty stroke gave Tuffy Western Province a 4-3 win over Pens, Eastern Province were given an 8-minute burst split over half-time losing 4-1 to the SA Invitational U21 side, Gertjie Lamprecht earned North West a 2-0 win against the Mynahs and the Nuggets went down 4-3 in a hectic match with Free State.
In the B Section, the drama came down to the wire as three teams finished tied on 12 points. Northern Cape B (The older generation of players) beat the younger ones 18-2 to secure a spot in the final. They will be joined by SACD who lost 2-1 to Northern Daisies but qualified by a 1 goal better differential in goal difference!
Day 6 Results – A Section
1-4 Semi Finals
Southern Gauteng 4-0 Northern Blues
KZN Raider 3-1 SG Witsies
Tuffy Western Province 4-3 WP Peninsula
SA Invitational U21 4-1 Eastern Province
Free State 4-3 SG Nuggets
North West 2-0 KZN Mynahs
Day 6 Results – B Section
Northern Cape A 2-18 Northern Cape B
Mpumalanga 1-8 KZN Inland
SACD 1-2 Northerns Daisies