In front of the biggest crowd of the week at the AB Jackson Astro-Turf in Pietermaritzburg, the KZN Raiders came from a goal behind to defeat Southern Gauteng 2-1 in a fantastic display of hockey. The victory for Sihle Ntuli’s men means the province defended their title won last year and, in the process, completed back-to-back indoor and outdoor hockey national titles.
The game started in the warm winter sun with Southern Gauteng looking fired up and ready to win the title. They created the first big chance of the game as they broke from defence and skipper Miguel da Graca hit the most delightful diagonal through ball to set up Nic Spooner in a one-on-one with Gowan Jones. The Southerns hot shot, who plays his club hockey in Germany, took a touch, lined up his shot and slid it into the bottom corner. The composure in the finish brought the Gauteng fans to their feet.
Southerns defence was the hallmark to their great week and once establishing a lead they would be difficult side to break down, needing either an error by Southerns or a moment of magic from the Raiders. Fortunately for the crowd it was a moment of magic as Clinton Panther, a former IPT winner with Southerns, produced a breath-taking run down the line laying the ball off for Matt de Sousa who set up Cameron Mackay. Mackay had a lot to do still but finished outstanding well from a tight angle.
The second half saw both teams looking to gain the lead with chances spurned on both ends, but the defining moment arrived in the 46th minute when national skipper Tim Drummond set up Bili Ntuli, despite the attention of three Southern Gauteng defenders. Ntuli finished with a strike worthy of winning a championship and that’s exactly what it did, sealing the title for the KZN Raiders.
The B Section produced an outstanding final of its own as the Northern Cape side took an early 3-0 lead through Severiano Kock and a brace from Lyndon Fredericks. They then went defensive in restricting SA Country Districts to just two goals to bag a historic title for themselves.
The Bronze medal was won by Southern Gauteng Witsies, who came from a goal down to win 2-1 thanks to Kingsley Botes and Thabang Modise, while Western Province secured fifth spot with a 3-1 victory over SA Invitational U21.
The individual awards of the B section were announced after the final with Darren Kamfer (SACD) named as player of the tournament and Macheke Fanelo (SACD) won the goalkeeper of the tournament. In the A Section the prize winners were Jarred Cass (SAU21) – young player of the tournament, Rassie Pieterse (Southern Gauteng) – goalkeeper of the tournament and Mo Mea (KZN Raiders) – player of the tournament.
For many of the players the eye will now turn to the upcoming PHL tournament, which starts next week, while the greater world cup squad announcement will also be released shortly.
Day 7 Final Results
A Section Final
Southern Gauteng 1-2 KZN Raiders
A Section Playoffs
3/4 – SG Witsies 2-1 Northerns Blues
5/6 – Western Province 3-1 SA Invitational U21
7/8 – Eastern Province 6-1 WP Peninsula
9/10 – Free State 0-1 North West
11/12 – SG Nuggets (1)2-2(3) KZN Mynahs
B Section Final
Northern Cape “B” 3-2 SA Country Districts
B Section Playoffs
3/4 – Northern Daisies 1-2 KZN Inland
5/6 – Mpumalanga 5-1 Northern Cape “A”