KZN Inland’s hockey title dreams dashed once again

2010-08-27 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal Inland team suffered the cruellest of blows and with it the chance to have a crack at domestic hockey’s most prized crown when they were held to a 2-2 draw by Northerns Blues at the SA Men’s Inter-provincial Hockey Tournament in Port Elizabeth yesterday.

Inland, in control with just 11 minutes left on the clock, were leading 2-1 in the crucial Pool A match when top international umpire Deon Nel of East London penalised goalkeeper Rohn Barron fo bringing down a Northerns forward in a one-on-one situation.

Top-class SA flicker Justin Reid-Ross converted the pressure penalty stroke to draw the scores level and Northerns withstood a barrage of attacks in the final minutes to earn the draw they needed to qualify for a last-four clash with Pool B winners Western Province today.

To crown a miserable day for Inland, Karl Oftebro’s last penalty corner hit the post after the final hooter had sounded.

Whether the Northerns forward had lost control of the ball when Barron brought him down in the aftermath of narrowing the angle is a question that will haunt the Inland lads for some time to come.

Inland came close in 2007 to annexing the title for the first time in their comparatively short history as an autonomous hockey province. But it was not to be for captain Darryn Gallagher and coach Charlie Pereira’s men this year, who needed a win while the Pretoria lads needed only draw.

To their credit, Northerns kept their heads after trailing 2-1 at half-time and believed implicitly in their processes in the face of two high-class penalty corner goals by Inland drag-flicker Oftebro.

Northerns had opened the scoring midway through the first half via a Kyle Rhodes penalty corner goal.

This is a different Northerns side intent on knocking the more illustrious hockey provinces in Southerns, WP and KZN Coastal off their perches.

The other semi-final will feature defending champions KZN Coastal Raiders, without the suspended SA international midfielder, Taine Paton, against their opponents in last year’s final, Southern Gauteng.

Inland meet Western Province Peninsula in the sixth-to-eighth place play-offs today, while Eastern Pro­vince will face Border.

RESULTS

A section: KZN Coastal Raiders 9 Border 1; Kaspersky Southern Gauteng 6 WP Peninsula 1; Northerns Blues 2 KZN Inland 2; Western Province 3 Eastern Province 0.

B Section: KZN Inland B 3 Southern Cape 1; Northern Cape 4 Mpumalanga 2; KZN Mynahs 2 Free State 1; Witwatersrand 8 EP Settlers 2.

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