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Three from three as Southern Gauteng sides ease through

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The Southern Gauteng men’s and women’s teams were the only sides to go through the pool stages with a perfect three-from-three record as the hosts dominated the third day of the Greenfields Senior Interprovincials at the Randburg Hockey Stadium on Wednesday.
The men’s side, beaten finalists last year, claimed a third straight win when they saw off the tenacious, hard-running Eastern Province side 4-1, while the local women had a much easier time winning their third successive game as they breezed past North-West 6-0.
The most exciting and impactful matches of the day were those between the men’s and women’s teams of KwaZulu-Natal and Tuffy Western Province, with the Raiders gaining the better outcomes in both.
Whenever KZN Raiders and Western Province clash it’s always going to be a hotly contested encounter and their men’s match was no different as, after 60 minutes of high-quality hockey, the sides could not be separated as they ended in a 1-1 stalemate.
The result had an important effect on the final standings with the SA U21 side moving to the top of Pool A after their 5-0 win over Free State earlier in the afternoon.
It was Raiders who managed to open the scoring, doing so as early as the second minute, as Andrew Manson made the most of a defensive blunder to slot home and make it 1-0. But Province did manage to equalise three minutes from halftime through captain and University of Stellenbosch star Daniel Bell, who found the back of the net with a powerful drag-flick.
The score remained locked at 1-1, although not due to a lack of effort from either side, with both Gowan Jones – in goal for Raiders – and Province shot-stopper Mark Turner proving immense with a number of brilliant saves.
The result means Western Province, who suffered a 3-2 loss to the SA U21s on day two of the tournament, ended third in Pool A with KZN dropping from first to second.
There was also disappointment for the Western Province women’s side as they fell to a 3-2 defeat against Spar KZN Raiders and ended up, like their male counterparts, finishing third in their pool.
Raiders dominated the early exchanges and netted twice through Donna Small, before Province pulled one back after being awarded a penalty stroke, Heather McEwan stepping forward and slotting one low and left to cut the deficit.
But a well-worked short-corner goal by Courtney du Preez extended Raiders’ lead, before a brilliant bit of hockey by Province saw Candice Manuel score on the back post two minutes from time. But while they rallied late, the Cape side were unable to draw level.
The SA U21 men’s side continued to show what fast learners they are with a comfortable 5-0 win over Free State to cement their place at the top of Pool A.
Nduduza Lembethe managed to score inside two minutes with a field goal, but then the junior national side couldn’t find a way through right up until the halftime hooter. The floodgates opened after the changeover and a second from Lembethe, and further goals by Alex Stewart, 2014 Youth Olympian Nqobile Ntuli and Khumo Mokale extended their lead to 4-0 in the space of eight minutes.
The rout was completed when Khumo Mokale scored in the 40th minute.
The Southern Gauteng men’s side showed the value of some wise old heads as they withstood their biggest test of the week against a skilful Eastern Province side.
The hosts made a great start as Reza Rosenberg was taken out by the EP goalkeeper in the second minute, leading to an obvious penalty stroke calmly slotted by Stuart Spooner.
The attacking ability of the Eastern Cape team was immediately obvious, however, as they forced Ricky West to make a fine save off the line just a minute later.
Southern Gauteng enjoyed the comfort of a two-goal lead after just six minutes as Brandon Panther rounded off the good work of Julian Hykes and the tremendous structure and ball-control of the home side was evident in their third goal, Brad Venter finishing clinically after wonderful interplay with Clinton Panther.
Eastern Province cut the deficit to 3-1 in the 19th minute, Michael Abrahams finishing well after Chad Cairncross had found him in the middle of the D with a pinpoint ball. But the talented Hykes had the final say with a great individual goal in the 20th minute, taking Southern Gauteng into a quarterfinal against the winless Free State side.
The Southern Gauteng women were far too strong for North-West, sweeping them aside with three goals in the first 11 minutes. The ever-present Bernie Coston scored twice and the six-goal hammering was completed with goals by Toni Marks, Lisa-Mari Deetlefs, Sylvia van Jaarsveldt and Catherine McNulty.
The Northerns Blues men’s side secured second place in Pool B by beating Wits 3-0, pushing the Southern Gauteng second-stringers into fourth place. But such is the strength of Witwatersrand hockey at the moment that no one will take for granted the danger Wits will pose to the SA U21s in their quarterfinal, especially since they missed numerous opportunities against Northerns on Wednesday.
Matthew Guise-Brown scored two short-corner goals for Northerns and Hendy Seerane added a superb individual goal.
Wits also went down 3-0 to Northerns in the women’s A Section, with Jacinta Jubb scoring twice for the Blues, to ensure they finished top of Pool B and are heading for a quarter-final against Free State.
The SA U21 women claimed their first win of the week, beating Free State 1-0, Kristen Paton scoring, and they will head for a last-eight match against the KZN Raiders.
Zimbabwe’s men’s and women’s teams have done well in the B Section, finishing second in both their pools. Their women’s side motored to a 6-2 win over SA Country Districts through hat-tricks by Michelle Williams and Nicola Watson.

In the picture Jermaine Johnson of Southern Gauteng (left) and Michael Abrahams of Eastern Province in day three action. Picture courtesy of Reg Caldecott

Results
Men’s A Section: Tuffy Western Province 1 (Daniel Bell) KZN Raiders 1 (Andrew Manson); SA U21 5 (Nduduza Lembethe [2], Alex Stewart, Nqobile Ntuli, Khumo Mokale) Free State 0; Northerns Blues 3 (Matthew Guise-Brown [2], Hendy Seerane) Wits 0; Southern Gauteng 4 (Stuart Spooner, Brandon Panther, Brad Venter, Julian Hykes) Eastern Province 1 (Michael Abrahams)
Women’s A Section: Tuffy Western Province 2 (Heather McEwan, Candice Manuel) Spar KZN Raiders 3 (Donna Small [2], Courtney du Preez); Free State 0 SA U21 1 (Kristen Paton); Northerns Blues 3 (Jacinta Jubb [2], Welma Luus) Wits 0; Southern Gauteng 6 (Bernadette Coston [2], Toni Marks, Sylvia van Jaarsveldt, Lisa-Mari Deetlefs, Catherine McNulty) North-West 0
Men’s B Section: KZN Inland 0 SA Country Districts 3 (Kyle Stemmett, Ryan Innes, Keith Stainbank); North-West 3 (Francois Cilliers, Killian Ludick [2]) Eastern Gauteng 2 (Brandon Crockett, Kyle Cameron); WP Peninsula 2 (Warren McEwan [2]) Northerns B 0; KZN Mynahs 3 (Brendon Smith, Richard Pentecost, Taylor Kelly-Stack) Zimbabwe 2 (Tendayi Maredza, Deon Wardley)
Women’s B Section: SA Country Districts 2 (Wilna Phillips [2]) Zimbabwe 6 (Michelle Williams [3], Nicola Watson [3]); KZN Inland 3 (Silindile Mbhele, Tiffany Jones [2]) Northerns B 3 (Corien Grobler, Janie Porteous, Chanel Dippenaar); WP Peninsula 5 (Aimee Pote, Gabriella de Kock (2), Michelle Dias, Kayde Miller) Mpumalanga 0; KZN Mynahs 2 (Stacey Hiron, Yorke Petty) Southern Gauteng Nuggets 1 (Megan de Lange)

Final log standings
Men’s A Section: Pool A – SA U21 7pts; KZN Raiders 5; Western Province 4; Free State 0. Pool B – Southern Gauteng 9pts; Northerns Blues 3 (+1); Eastern Province 3 (-3); Wits 3 (-7)
Women’s A Section: Pool A – Southern Gauteng 9pts; North-West 4; SA U21 3; Free State 1. Pool B – Northerns Blues 7pts; KZN Raiders 6; Western Province 4, Wits 0
Men’s B Section: Pool A – WP Peninsula 9pts; North-West 6; Northerns B 1 (-3); Eastern Gauteng 1 (-7). Pool B – KZN Mynahs 9pts; Zimbabwe 6; SA Country Districts 3; KZN Inland 0
Women’s B Section: Pool A – WP Peninsula 9pts; Zimbabwe 6; SA Country Districts 3, Mpumalanga 0. Pool B – KZN Mynahs 9pts; KZN Inland 4 (0); Northerns B 4 (-3); Southern Gauteng Nuggets 0

Quarter-finals line-up
Men’s A Section: 1.45pm Northerns Blues v Western Province; 3.30pm KZN Raiders v Eastern Province; 5.15pm SA U21 v Wits; 7pm Southern Gauteng v Free State
Women’s A Section: 12pm North-West v Western Province; 1.45pm KZN Raiders v SA U21; 3.30pm Northerns Blues v Free State; 5.15pm Southern Gauteng v Wits
Men’s B Section: 8.30am North-West v SA Country Districts, WP Peninsula v KZN Inland; 10.15am Zimbabwe v Northerns B; 12pm KZN Mynahs v Eastern Gauteng
Women’s B Section: 8.30am KZN Inland v SA Country Districts; 10.15am WP Peninsula v Southern Gauteng Nuggets, KZN Mynahs v Mpumalanga; 12pm Zimbabwe v Northerns B


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