Another IPT thriller on cards | SASCOC - SASCOC

Another IPT thriller on cards

Last year the KZN Coastals Raiders nearly lost a key pool match against Inland in the last minute, but a mistake enabled the Durban boys to earn a PC (penalty corner) that was nailed by corner flicker Gareth Carr. That draw ultimately ensured the Raiders went to the semi-finals and then won the 2009 men’s IPT hockey title in a thrilling final with Southern Gauteng. Inland ended fifth.

On Tuesday at the KC March turf in Gelvandale, Port Elizabeth the 2009 thriller at the AB Jackson Greenfields Turf in Pietermaritzburg could be re-enacted, writes SA Hockey World’s Jonathan Cook.

Both sides have Olympians and World Cup and Commonwealth Games players, while the midfield skirmish between experienced Tommy Hammond and Darryn Gallagher and the “new” national faces in the Paton brothers, Taine and Wade, and Tim Drummond, may decide the result.

There’s also the battle of the PC specialists, SA star Carr and Inland’s Karl Oftebro, while Beijing Olympian and 2006 World Cup forward Geoff Abbott will need to be at his best to overshadow new Raiders sharpshooter Lloyd Norris-Jones and another Olympian and World Cup lad in Marvin Harper, not to mention the likes of Teigan Mulholland, Michael Botha and Mondli Dlamini.

The defences will also be sorely tested and here Coastals boast national players Lloyd Madsen and Carr, as well as national caps Kevan Demartinis and Shanyl Balwanth.

Southern Gauteng aim to go one better than losing finalists Tuesday when they face Eastern Province in the 5.30 pm Pool B match.

Southern Gauteng Hockey Association president Sheila Brown said told SA Hockey World Monday that Russian-based Internet security company Kaspersky have entered into a three-year sponsorship deal with the Johannesburg-based province. It’s the biggest-ever sponsorship in provincial hockey.

Southerns need to go one better than losing finalists, as in the two previous IPTs, when they lost to Western Province in Potchefstroom two years and then last year to KZN Coastals Raiders at the AB Jackson Greenfields Turf.

Southerns, or Kaspersky Southerns as they are now called, have long had top stars but battled to deliver the killer blow in finals.

New coach Mo Malebye has changed the focus, instilled in his players the realisation that one poor match in a tournament where there are only five games can be fatal.

“We have worked hard, but we’ll find out this week how far we have progressed,” he told SA Hockey World Monday.

EP have also been guilty in the past of being packed with quality players but unable to deliver consistent performances, a reputation that head coach Cheslyn Gie and assistant mentor Ellwishes Cloete will be hoping to bury.

But with EP players of the quality of SA goalkeeper Brendon Botes, Satchi Reddy, Geowynne Gamiet, former SA midfielder Clyde Abrahams of Beijing Olympics reputation and more star quality in John Paul, Giovanni Joseph, and Darren Kimfley among others, the home fans will be hoping for their game breakers to knock Kaspersky Southern off their pedestal.

Yet Southerns have their own matchwinners in the Blade, Thornton McDade, as well as the supremely dedicated Panther brothers, Brandon and Clinton – and we haven’t even started talking about flicker Ricky West, Oliver Whitely, Sean Landsdale, captain Miguel da Graca, stopper Rassie Pieterse and just about everyone else in the Kaspersky Southerns line-up.

The battle between WP and Pens looks a no-brainer win for head coach Pierre le Roux’s squad, but the Province second string need no more incentive than to give the A side a fright and the star-studded WP team that includes Andrew Cronje in the captain’s armband, his deputy, the national captain Austin Smith, as well as a galaxy of other name players know they cannot slacken as goal difference could be crucial.

Pens are no slouches, though, surely not with national age group players like Warren Grobbelaar and Antony Vervoort, Barry Maart, Gregg Drake, Ashlin Freddy, and Vaughn Erasmus in the line-up.

Northerns Blues meet Border in a match that sees the individual skills of goalkeeper Alex Petzer, Matthew Guise-Brown, Kyle Rhodes, Justin Reid-Ross and Rhett Halkett among many others on the Pretoria team’s side up against the mercurial Border lads who have the underrated Brad Taberer and KJ Friend, as well as more established stars in the form of Julian Hykes, Reece Basson, and Laden Gamiet in their ranks.

Meanwhile, there were big B Section wins for Witwatersrand and KZN Mynahs Monday.

Eastern Province Settlers were made to work hard by SA Country Districts for their 1-0 win, while North West were good value for their 3-0 victory over a useful Free State line-up.

Wits demolished Southern Cape, with five goals in the first half followed by six in the second in a very one-sided affair that was as much a whirlwind 11-0 victory as the howling gale that swept across the PE suburb throughout the day.

KZN Mynahs opened the tournament and although they were always better than Mpumalanga, the men from Durban struggled to settle into a rhythm and went into half-time just two goals ahead. The 3-1 score going into the second half became 7-1 at the final whistle.

Most of the B Section matches take place at Grey High School Tuesday.