Controversy mars U21 hockey final

2008-04-13 00:00

After a tempestuous week, perhaps it was not altogether surprising that the riveting U21 Interprovincial Tournament hockey final would be bedevilled with the same unfortunate characteristics.

After the score between SA U19 and Western Province was 2-2 at the end of regulation time on Saturday afternoon and the first period of extra time brought no change, the SA juniors earned a free hit outside the WP circle. The well-struck hit appeared to rebound off the right-hand upright and SA U19 striker Ryan Fensham was on hand to scramble home what looked to be the winner, and what would have been an unprecedented outcome — a national side winning an interprovincial tournament.

But WP protested vociferously and, to the consternation of the SA juniors, their outraged bench and most of the enthralled crowd, umpire KJ Friend disallowed the goal after consulting with colleague Kirk Mendoza. However, a respected umpire informed The Witness that the video replay clearly indicated that the free hit struck the upright and Fensham scored legitimately.

On to a penalty-stroke shootout, and the regulation five strokes by each side all went in.

Sudden death was next and the 14th stroke in all was saved by Jacques le Roux, who was mobbed by his WP team-mates.

Meanwhile, in Randburg, Heloise Labuschagne scored in extra time to give North West the U21 women’s title, with a 1-0 win over the strong Southern Gauteng side.

The result capped a marvellous week for the relatively small hockey province of North West, with top spot at U21 women’s IPT and an outstanding third place at the equivalent men’s IPT in Pietermaritzburg.

For their women to defeat hockey heavyweights Western Province and Southern Gauteng on consecutive days in the semi-finals and final is a remarkable example of fortitude, huge self-belief and no little skill.

It is clear from these results that the work being done by Absa Puk/NWU Hockey director Paul Revington is reaping huge rewards for SA hockey as a whole, and his efforts to bring the men’s section on par with the women’s fantastic exploits are already gaining ground.

Final results and placings:

Men:

Final: WP 2 SA juniors 2 (WP won shootout 7-6)

Third: North West 3 Southern Gauteng 2

Fifth: KZN Coastal 5 WP Peninsula 1.

Seventh: KZN Midlands 5 Northern Gauteng 1

Ninth: Border 3 EP 2

11th: Free State 3 SG Wits 3 (FS won shootout 3-2).

Women:

Final: North West 1 Southern Gauteng 0.

Third: WP 3 Northern Gauteng 1

Fifth: KZN Coastal 2 Wits 0

Seventh: SA U18 5 EP2

Ninth: Pens 3 Free State 1;

11th KZN Midlands; Seventh: SA U18 5 EP2.

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