By Jonathan Cook
An inspired Southern Gauteng beat arch-rivals Western Province 5-1 Wednesday after leading 4-0 at half-time on day two of A Section action at the SA Women’s Interprovincial Hockey Tournament in Potchefstroom.
The girls from Johannesburg were spurred on by brilliant performances from Shelley Russell and captain Bernie Coston in nailing down a 4-0 lead after just 26 minutes. Kaila Flemming was first on the scoresheet from the penalty spot, Russell bagged a brace and Coston scored a breath-taking goal.
Megan Robertson pulled one back for WP two minutes after half-time but the Capetonians weren’t able to score again and Roxy Turner-Coetzee netted Southerns’ fifth and final goal a minute from the end.
In the late game defending champs Northern Blues transferred the ball to good effect from Kim Hubach in deep central defence on to right half Natalia Esteves, back inside to captain Nicolene Terblanche in midfield and then out right for Sammy Prost to lay off to Dirkie Chamberlain in the six-metre area – and goal shots plus penalty corner opportunities were the outcome.
As they did in the exciting 2-2 draw with Free State Tuesday, North West defended with dogged determination and no little skill while also finding opportune moments to probe down the right wing, but the experienced, composed Blues left half Chrizelle Andries and her fellow defenders were up to the challenge.
Blues finally made the breakthrough two minutes after the half-time changeover (32nd) when the hugely experienced Kim Hubach let fly with a rocket from the penalty spot. The set-piece opportunity had been awarded by umpire Binks Robertson after the goalward-bound ball had struck a North West defender’s foot on the goalline.
Blues made it 2-0 in the 54th through a Jacinta Jubb field goal while Celia Evans reduced the deficit two minutes from full-time.
No matter how limited the bowling attack may be, you still have to bat well to score a century – and that analogy sums up Free State’s 15-0 drubbing of Border.
Head coach Braam van Wyk’s talented young Free State girls led 9-0 at half-time and spread their goal frenzy through all four of the 15-minute chukkas, four in the first, five in the second, and three apiece in the third and fourth.
The goals – the majority of which were constructed and then executed in brilliant fashion – came off the sticks of Shevaun Botha (3), Tanya Britz (2), Nicole Walraven (3), Casey-Jean Botha, Nisa van Zyl (2), Cornelle Botha (2) and outstanding captain Line Malan (2).
Like Charles Glass, the legendary brew master of South Africa’s favourite beer, Van Wyk is not easily pleased but there was no hiding the coach’s quiet pride in the manner of his team’s victory.
“The girls didn’t fall into the trap of playing too directly, which often happens when the favourites play the underdogs,” said Van Wyk, who has coached with distinction for decades.
“My strikers, too, were outstanding. We had chatted about the importance of being in the right scoring positions in the strike zone and they met my expectations. Another aspect that was pleasing is that it is vital to forget the scoreboard. You must concentrate on the quality of your play in each passage of play and the scoreboard will take care of itself.”
The second match bore witness to a fine performance from coach Lennie Botha’s Spar KZN Raiders, who beat a competitive South Gauteng Wits 3-2 after leading 3-0 at the break.
Wits, under the guidance of David Joshua, came back strongly in the last 20 minutes but Raiders were good value for their win. The Durban girls’ goals went to skipper Kelly Madsen, vice-captain Wendy Snelling (2) and Cardeux Nel, while Wits got on the scoreboard thanks to a thunderous penalty corner strike by the impressive Luche Klaasen and a Jessica Nritz goal from field play.Thursday’s final round of Pool fixtures to determine who secures berths in Friday’s semi-finals and playoff matches, sees a couple of blockbusters in the making. Two clashes in particular to savour are those between Blues and Free State at 2pm followed by Southerns versus Spar KZN Raiders at 4pm.
In the round robin B Section, the favoured teams gunning for promotion – WP Peninsula and Namibia – played to a 0-0 draw. It had the makings of a final, as there are no playoffs in this section, and play swung from end to end with both sides presenting themselves with goalscoring opportunities.
Despite the dearth of goals, this was a humdinger of a clash and it is a pity that these two teams won’t meet again in a final. What becomes vital now is that they keep winning and keep scoring as many goals as possible as the B Section winners of promotion to the 2016 A Section is likely to be decided on goal difference.
Coach Satchi Reddy’s KZN Inland side are the third team in the title race and they were good value for their 4-1 win over a feisty Mpumalanga. Under the exemplary tutelage of coach Brighty Mashaba and well led by outstanding goalkeeper Corrie Bloem, Mpumalanga have impressed with their fighting spirit.
Inland, under the assured leadership of skipper Ros Flint, scored goals through the prolific Tiffany Jones – the runaway B Section top goalscorer (11) – as well as the in-form SA Indoor World Cup player Amy Greaves added to the brace by Michelle Dias, this after the girls from Nelspruit had opened the scoring in the third minute via the stick of Bonita Vere.
A Section: Free State 15 Border 0; Spar KZN Raiders 4 South Gauteng Wits 2; Southern Gauteng 5 Western Province 1; Northern blues 2 North West 1.
B Section: Namibia 4 SA Country Districts B 1; SA Country Districts A 5 Eastern Province 2; KZN Inland 4 Mpumalanga 1; KZN Mynahs 3 SG Nuggets 1; Namibia 0 WP Peninsula 0.
A Section logs (GD, points)
Pool A (all played 2) – 1 Northern Blues 12GD 6 pts; 2 Free State 15GD 4 pts; 3 North West -1GD 1 pt; 4 Border -26GD 0 pts.
Pool B (all played 2) – 1 Southern Gauteng 7GD 6 pts; 2 Spar KZN Raiders 0GD 3 pts; 3 WP -2GD 3 pts; 4 SG Wits -5GD 0 pts.
A Section: 12h00 WP vs SG Wits; 14h00 Northern Blues vs Free State; 16h00 Southern Gauteng vs Spar KZN Raiders; 18h00 North West vs Border.
B Section: 09h00 SACD A vs SG Nuggets; 10h45 EP vs WP Pens; 12h30 KZN Inland vs KZN Mynahs; 14h15 Mpumalanga vs Namibia; SACD B vs SG Nuggets.
PHOTO ACTION PIX