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Victorious Pens make SA hockey history

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Western Province Peninsula (Pens) made history when they beat hockey heavyweights Fedex Southern Gauteng 2-1 after leading 1-0 at half-time in the final of the Greenfields Men’s Interprovincial at Queensmead in Durban at the weekend to become the first provincial ‘B’ team to win the premier domestic trophy in South African hockey.

Pens’ player/coach Steve Evans scored in the 15th minute and Dave Agar added his side’s second in the 48th while Nic Spooner got on the scoresheet for Southerns in the 57th.

Pens, the Western Province ‘B’ side, had already caused the biggest upset in years the day before when they beat their senior side, defending champs Western Province, in a magnificent semi-final display – and they did it gain in the weekend’s gold medal, title match.

Pens had never qualified for the semi-finals before and then became the first ‘B’ team to reach the final since South Gauteng Wits in 1996. Pens have now secured their own, unique place in SA hockey history.

WP’s second stringers started very well and opened the scoring in the 15th minute, following their third penalty corner, when outstanding player/coach Evans, the Athens 2004 Olympian, shovelled the ball over the goalline; this was while Southerns captain Tommy Hammond, the Beijing 2008 Olympian, was off the field with a shoulder injury.

Earlier, Gregg Drake had brought out a save from Rassie Pieterse at a PC while Southerns, with 14 SA-capped players, also had their moments in the opening half, notably from striker Julian Hykes.

There was some neat interplay on the part of both sides and Pens could have gone 2-0 and then 3-0 up in the 26th and 30th minutes respectively when Ryan Julius did everything right but score. Miguel da Graca got in a shot at the other end that was comfortably saved by Mark Turner and on the half-time hooter the keeper was again on-song to stop Southerns first PC.

Hammond failed to return after the half-time break, a massive blow, but Southerns started well and Turner was forced to make another good save, this time from Brandon Panther on the turn, but Evans was a steadying influence for the rank underdogs.

Southerns striker Spooner had a good opportunity soon after but pulled his shot wide and in the 48th young Pens striker Keenan Horne, in the form of his life, won a PC which former Durbanite Agar rifled into the backboard to stretch the Capetonians’ lead.

Then an exquisite piece of skill by Pens’ Robert Edwards might have brought more reward but in the 57th Hykes crossed from the left and Spooner finished clinically to bring Southerns right back into the game with 13 minutes left.

Southerns surged forward but Pens held firm, Drake making a crucial clearance, but with two minutes left Southerns won a PC and again it was Turner who repelled the threat – and with seconds left the keeper was on hand once again and the national title belonged to the Western Province “B” side, who played like absolute champions.

The final was also a fond farewell to one of South Africa’s most celebrated umpires, Gary Simmonds of Durban, who wielded the whistle for the last time before drawing the curtain on a career that included Olympic Games and World Cups.

Last year’s champions, Tuffy Western Province won the bronze medal with a 3-0 win over Northern Blues, the goals coming from Lloyd Norris-Jones, Matt Botha and Craig Haley.

CLASSIFICATION RESULTS

A Section: (7/8) Eastern Province 2 (Natius Malgraff, Dalan Phillips) KZN Inland 0; (5/6) KZN Coastal Raiders 8 (Ross Hetem 3, Greg Last, Taine Paton 2, Geoff Abbott, Gavin Jelley) South Gauteng Wits 2 (Cole Milton, Lloyd Nicholson); (3/4) Western Province 3 (Lloyd Norris-Jones, Matt Botha, Craig Haley) Northern Blues 0; (1/2) Western Province Peninsula 2 (Steve Evans, Dave Agar) Southern Gauteng 1 (Nic Spooner).

A Section: Top goalscorer: Pierre de Voux (Western Province). Most Promising Player: Keenan Horner (WP Peninsula). Player of IPT: Tim Drummond (KZN Coastal Raiders).

B Section: (7/8) EP Settlers 2 (Kyle Boggenpoel, Jeremy Hart) Namibia 1 (Kave Tjikuniva); (5/6) Border 4 (Hayden Marcus, Callan Hansen, Jason van Zyl 2) SA Country Districts 3 (Etienne Blatt, Warren van der Merwe, Antony Rimbault); (3/4) KZN Coastal Robins 1 (Ryan Lees) North West 1 (Tjoff van Staden), Robins won penalty shootout 4-3; (1/2) KZN Coastal Mynahs 3 (Mondli Dlamini, Matt Fairweather, Cameron Mackay Free State 1 (Berne Burger).

B Section: Top goalscorer: Jason van Zyl (Border). Player of IPT: Mondli Dlamini (KZN Coastal Raiders).

A South Africa men’s hockey squad of 32 was selected from those players who played at the Interprovincial.

Goalkeepers: Rassie Pieterse, Jason Briggs (both Southern Gauteng); Gowan Jones, Richard Curtis (both KZN Coastal Raiders); Jacques le Roux (Western Province), Chad Durrheim (North West).
Defenders: Jethro Eustice, Gareth Heyns, Lance Louw (all Southern Gauteng); Mohamed Mea, Leneal Jackson (both KZN Coastal Raiders); Daniel Bell, Rhett Halkett (both Western Province); Matt Guise-Brown (Northern Blues).
Midfielders: Tim Drummond, Dan Sibbald, Ross Hetem (all KZN Coastal Raiders); Chad Cairncross (Eastern Province); Clint Panther, Taylor Dart (both Southern Gauteng); Wade Paton (Western Province); Marc Fourie (WP Peninsula).
Forwards: Natius Malgraff (Eastern Province); Pierre de Voux, Matt Botha (both Western Province); Taine Paton, Damian Kimfley (both KZN Coastal Raiders); Keenan Horne (WP Peninsula); Mondli Dlamini, Cam Mackay (both KZN Coastal Mynahs); Richard Pautz (Northern Blues); Brandon Panther (Southern Gauteng).

In the picture; Western Province Peninsula’s (from left) Max Bissolati (16), Adrian Abrahams (4), Steve Evans (arm aloft), Matthew Anderson (5) and Gregg Drake (background) celebrate their win while Southern Gauteng’s Nic Spooner (13) reflects.
Photo: GAVIN NEL

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