A hockey spectacular

2014-08-26 00:00

IF last year’s event is an indication, the Greenfields Men’s Interprovincial Tournament (IPT) elite A Section starting at Queensmead Hockey Stadium today will provide some startling clashes.

The B Section, or second division, at the nearby Three Schools Trust turf will see Free State, North West and Border going all-out for promotion to the 2015 elite division of the showcase domestic tournament in South African hockey.

Today’s opening round sees the pick of the Queenmead’s action likely to be between the strong host province KZN Coastal Raiders and Western Province Peninsula at 4.30 pm.

Adding further spice this year is that South Africa men’s head coach Fabian Gregory and the panel of selectors have decreed this is a compulsory IPT for all players wishing to be considered for the national team in the future. Hence, all current South African players will be on show and their presence is sure to rub off on the players around them.

Cape Town was the venue last year and torrential rain caused matches to be postponed and the consequent switching of venues.

In a remarkable semi-final, underdogs Northern Blues were 3-0 up against eventual IPT winners Western Province after 28 minutes before an alarming downpour left the pitch waterlogged and forced the players off the field.

The match was moved from Hartleyvale’s stadium pitch to the B pitch and WP pulled a goal back in the five minutes of play before it was called off for good for the day. The semi-final resumed the next morning at University of Cape Town and WP came back from a 3-1 deficit to beat Northern Blues 4-3 in a stunning finish.

Seven hours later, WP edged Southern Gauteng 1-0 in the final, making it a super Saturday in every respect.

This year’s A Section’s Pool A features defending champs Tuffy Western Province, Northern Blues, Southern Gauteng Wits and Eastern Province, while the Pool B line-up has Southern Gauteng, last year’s finalists, as well as KZN Coastal Raiders, KZN Inland and WP Peninsula in its ranks.

The B Section’s Pool A has North West, Border, EP Settlers and KZN Coastal “C, while the Pool B teams are Free State, KZN Mynahs, SA Country Districts and guest country, Namibia.

Today’s fixtures:

A Section (at Queensmead): Southern Gauteng vs KZN Inland (10.30 am); Tuffy Western Province vs Southern Gauteng Wits (12.30 pm); Northern Blues vs Eastern Province (2.30 pm); KZN Coastal Raiders vs WP Peninsula (4.30 pm).

B Section (at Queensmead): Free State vs SA Country Districts (8 am). B Section (at Three Schools Trust): North West vs EP Settlers (10 am); Border vs KZN Coastal “C” (noon); KZN Mynahs vs Namibia (2 pm).

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