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Women’s IPT starts

Hard on the heels of the SA Men’s IPT, which ended in Randburg over the weekend, the SA women’s interprovincial hockey tournament kicks off at the University of Free State hockey centre in Bloemfontein on Tuesday.

Two-time defending champions Southern Gauteng are in Pool A and will fight it out with Northern Gauteng Blues, North West and A Section newcomers Free State, while 2010 silver medallists in East London, KZN Coastal Raiders, head Pool B with 2006-08 winners Western Province, Witwatersrand and Eastern Province also in the hunt for Friday’s semi-final berths.

On Tuesday, Southerns open proceedings against North West, followed by the Cape derby between Western Province and Eastern Province. Next up, the Raiders tackle Wits before the late game between the Blues and 2010 B Section winners Free State, who have made a major acquisition in signing Amathole (Border) star Marcelle Keet.

WP, who enjoyed treble title success before Southerns wrested the title away from them in Pretoria in 2009, are going all out to return to the top of South Africa’s hockey tree and have in national number one keeper Mariette Rix just the type of player who could make the difference.

Southerns will again rely on superstar striker Pietie Coetzee and national captain Marsha Marescia plus central defender Lisa Deetlefs, while the Raiders will be looking to Cindy Botha to provide the spark up front. Northerns have in captain Kim Hubach and SA team-mate Nicolene Terblanche the two mainstays of their title hopes under the guidance of head coach Gregg Hesom.

North West will look to Coetzee’s national strike partner Sulette Damons for inspiration, while Wits and Eastern Province will find it tough to avoid the dreaded drop to next year’s B Section that comes with the fate of the wooden spoonists in this cut-throat competition played over five days that culminate in Saturday’s finals.

The B Section title race looks to be well within the grasp of Amathole, last year’s unlucky runners-up, who top Pool B ahead of KZN Mynahs and the SA Country Districts A and B teams, while Pool A has last year’s A Section relegation victims, KZN Inland, followed by Southern Cape, Mpumalanga and Free State B.

Tuesday’s fixtures
A Section (Field 1): Southern Gauteng vs North West; WP vs EP; KZN Coastal vs Wit; Northern Gauteng vs Free State.
B Section (Field 2): KZN Inland vs Mpumalanga; Amathole vs SA Country Districts A; Southern Cape vs Free State B; KZN Mynahs vs SA Country Districts B.


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