KZN Inland hockey team face test of character

2010-07-19 00:00

PLAYING in a top hockey tournament is cut-throat, each game a do-or-die affair.

This is the prospect facing captain Robyn Pearson’s KZN Inland team as they go into the SA Women’s Interprovincial Hockey Tournament at Kat Leisure Park in East London this week.

Inland had some close scrapes at last year’s IPT in Pretoria, but recovered well to finish seventh in the eight-team A Section, and in so doing they avoided the dreaded death battle that relegation to the B Section brings out.

Coach Craig Haley’s Inland girls are in the kinder of the two pools, as Pool B also includes KZN Coastals — the near-certain semi-final qualifiers — as well as Northern Gauteng Blues and Witwatersrand. Pool A is the tougher arena, with defending champions Southern Gauteng pitted against multiple winners Western Province, the exciting young North West side — the majority of whom won the SA U21 IPT title at the AB Jackson Greenfields Turf in Pietermaritzburg three months ago — and the promoted Eastern Province, who cannot be underestimated.

Indeed, if Inland coach Craig Haley’s side click they could well reach the semi-finals, as the likely second-place finish in Pool B will almost certainly be a straight duel with Northerns, although Wits have been known to spring surprises on their day.

However, there are no givens in IPT hockey and Inland could just as easily finish fourth and last in the pool and once again face the nightmare of relegation.

The stakes are high, as it is not easy for a province to come back to the top eight once it has dropped out, particularly when up against ambitious line-ups desperate to return to the A Section like Free State and Border.

Once again, these young Inland girls face a searching test of character, and a solid team ethic will be vital in producing the desired outcome.

 

FIXTURES

Monday: 1.30 pm: Border vs Free State (Pool B); 3 pm: Mpumalanga vs Northern Cape (Pool B); 4.30 pm: SA Country Districts A vs SA Country Districts B (Pool A); 6 pm: Western Province Peninsula vs KZN Mynahs (Pool A). Byes: Southern Cape (Pool A); Namibia (Pool B).

 

KZN Inland fixtures — Tuesday: vs KZN Coastals; Wednesday: vs Northern Gauteng Blues. Thursday: vs Witwatersrand. Friday: Cross-pool play-offs. Saturday: Classification matches.

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