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WP, Southerns look good

The elite A Section matches produced thrilling action at the SA Women’s Interprovincial Hockey Tournament at the University of Free State in Bloemfontein on Thursday as Western Province marched onwards.

Northern Gauteng Blues beat North West 2-1, KZN Coastal Raiders drew 3-3 with Eastern Province, Western Province enjoyed a comfortable 3-1 win over a motivated Witwatersrand and defending champs Southern Gauteng beat Free State 5-1.

Friday’s semi-finals will see WP against Blues and Southerns versus KZN Raiders.

WP and Southerns look the teams to beat, with Province’s all-round class and Southerns’ revolutionary reverse reaction press the features of IPT to date. Southerns assistant coach Rob van Ginkel said much of the Johannesburg-based side’s success has been due to the implementation of the reverse reaction press.

North West had to beat favourites Northern Gauteng Blues to reach Friday’s semi-finals and they gave everything before eventually going down 2-1 after trailing 1-0 at half-time.

Northerns dominated the first quarter but had nothing to show for it until the last minute of the opening half when Christel Fourie scored from a hotly disputed penalty corner. Elzane Smith had kept North West in the game with some brilliant goalkeeping and after making a top-class double save from the initial set-piece the Potchefstroom girls conceded another penalty corner.

It was ill luck for North West that Northerns recovered well from an untidy corner when SA right half Nicolene Terblanche nailed a diagonal ball for Fourie to steer past the keeper.

The Investec South Africa women’s hockey team players have stood out in this IPT, evidence of the tough overseas tours and training camps they have undergone with head coach Giles Bonnet and his staff, and it was no different in this encounter.

North West’s Sulette Damons and Celia Evans were prominent, as was Terblanche and Blues captain Kim Hubach. The second half saw North West dominate much of the play with Damons’s strong running a feature, as was former SA captain Lindsey Wright ÔÇô making a comeback at provincial level only ÔÇô in the heart of Northerns’ defence.

Both sides attacked strongly after the break left midfielder Tarryn Moses continued her excellent IPT form and her Northern side went 2-0 up after Hubach’s penalty corner pass was deflected in beautifully by Marlene Nortje.

Trailing by two goals with 23 minutes to go, North West threw their heart and soul into attack and a great goal from Damons resulted after she had combined nicely with Charlize van der Linde, who had won the initial turnover but that was the end of it despite several close calls.

In the other match with plenty riding on it, Eastern Province and KZN Coastal Raiders drew 3-3 after the scores were locked 2-2 at the changeover. EP had to win while all the Raiders needed was a draw to get through to Friday’s semi-finals.

Play swung from end to end and Raiders keeper Eveline de Haan and her EP counterpart Michelle Cremer were in the thick of things the whole game.

EP opened the scoring against last year’s finalists through a field goal from Camilla Forbes before Kara Stella’s penalty corner made it 1-1. Then it was EP vice-captain Jennifer Rembe to put her side back in front after a well-taken penalty stroke before Catherine Morris took the sides into half-time level 2-2 after her penalty corner strike.

Raiders went ahead for the first time in the 44th minute when Emma Bray bagged a field goal but EP were not done and captain Liesel Dorothy left the final score 3-3 with an action goal 16 minutes from time.

The second-tier B Sections semi-finals will feature Southern Cape versus Amathole (Border) and Free State B versus KZN Mynahs.

RESULTS
A Section: Northern Gauteng Blues 2 North West 1; KZN Coastal Raiders 3 Eastern Province 3; Western Province 3 Witwatersrand 1; Southern Gauteng 5 Free State 1
B Section: Southern Cape 5 Mpumalanga 0; KZN Mynahs 2 SA Country Districts A 1; Amathole (Border) 9 SA Country Districts B 0; KZN Inland 0 Free State B 0

FIXTURES
Cross-pool play-offs
A Section: (bottom four) Free State vs EP; North West vs Wits; (top four) Northern Gauteng vs WP; Southern Gauteng vs KZN Raiders.
B Section: (bottom four) Mpumalanga vs SACD A; KZN Inland vs SACD B; (top four) Southern Cape vs Amathole; Free State B vs KZN Mynahs.


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