KZN teams challenged to keep province in top 8 at women’s tournament

2010-07-16 00:00

THE focus of SA hockey turns to East London for next week’s Women’s Interprovincial Tournament, which runs from Monday to next Saturday.

KZN Inland captain Robyn Pearson and coach Ian Haley have a young side and the challenge will be to offer a competitive performance that ensures the province stays in the top eight.

In Kara Stella and other young players, Inland have much potential, so it’s a question of getting the players to work as a tight-knit team if success is to be realised.

Inland ended seventh last year, while KZN Coastal — losing finalists to a star-studded Southern Gauteng — have lost Great Britain international Crista Cullen, but gained two top Dutch players in 30-Test World Cup 2006-winning goalkeeper Eveline de Haan (34) and sweeper Merel de Blaey (23).

Coastal also have seasoned SA internationals in Lenise Marais — back in her Durban hometown after five years’ service for Maties and WP — Cindy Botha, Kelly Madsen and multi-capped captain Jen Wilson, while players such as Terri-Lee Chelin, Kerry Pearton and Catherine Morris are hugely underrated.

Both sides have a significant number of players back, but Coastal have the more seasoned line-up, and head coach Lennie Botha and his number two, the SA U21 Junior World Cup coach, Fabian Gregory, have ensured the squad players are well-prepared after months in training.

Of course, the SA Country Districts sides are packed with KZN Inland-based players and their performances will be followed with much interest.

Meanwhile, Maritzburg Collegians were involved in a humdinger against top club Riverside I in KZN Women’s Super League action this week.

“Collegians had their full team back,” said player/coach Lyndal Robertson.

The match at Riverside Sports Club, just north of the Mngeni River in Durban North, saw Collegians and KZN Inland captain Robyn Pearson back in the engine room, working hard to distribute the ball as centre midfielder.

Collegians’ attack was strong, with Morag McAllister and St Anne’s striker Rachel Froneman having several attempts, but unable to convert.

“Riverside had good pace up front and caught us on the back foot. They managed to win and convert a short corner,” said Robertson.

Collegians equalised with a well-worked action goal after a diving reverse-stick effort by Greytown girl and prolific goalscorer Linda Tarr.

But again Collegians were caught off pace around the back and Riverside capitalised to go into half-time 2-1 up.

“Collegians never backed down and the game spread open,” said Robertson. “Both teams were putting good passes together and making solid tackles all over the field.”

With five minutes left, Robertson won possession and passed to Epworth’s Heather McEwan, who was strong on the ball and won a short corner for Collegians. Robertson stepped up and converted for 2-2.

With a minute to go, Riverside captain and KZN Coastal provincial player Emma Bray showed fine skill as she took off from the halfway line. “Collegians knew they had to stay composed and did not find favour with the umpire,” said Robertson.

Riverside were awarded a short corner and Collegians’ GHS and SA U18 goalkeeper, Zimi Shange, made the initial save, but it was closed down quickly and nailed into the back of the box for the Durban North club’s 3-2 victory.

“It was a hard loss for Collegians in what was a match between two equally-matched teams,” Robertson added.

Collegians can draw heart from their excellent performance and will have to take the game to the classy Riverside team once again when they meet in the second round.

Today sees KZN Men’s Super League action at Queensmead with front-runners, the top-class PMB Varsity side with highly experienced player/coach Darryn Gallagher at the helm, taking on Rovers I at 7.30 pm, while the clubs’ women’s teams face off at 6 pm.

Come 2 pm at Queensmead on Sunday, Varsity’s men tackle Riverside I in a top-table clash, while Leo Quayle’s much-improved PMB Collegians squad meet Riverside II at 9.30 am.

 

CLUB FIXTURES

KZN Super League - Friday (Queensmead): PMB Varsity vs Rovers I (women 6 pm); PMB Varsity vs Rovers I (men 7.30 pm).

Sunday (Queensmead): PMB Collegians vs Riverside II (men 9.30 am); PMB Varsity vs Riverside I (men 2 pm).

KZN Inland Premier League – Saturday (AB Jackson Greenfields Turf): Standard A vs Collegians B (2.45 pm).

KZN TEAMS

KZN Inland: Megan Woodburn, Kara Stella, Kirsty Scott, Sade Simons, Nadia Stella, Robyn Pearson (capt), Michelle Henwood, Sarah Holland, Sian Eustice, Ilse Gordon, Linda Tarr, Dionne van Heerden, Julia Hudson, Megan Marr, Tash Linklater. Coach: Ian Haley. Manager: Megan Stella.

KZN Coastal: Eveline de Haan, Catherine Morris, Lenise Marais, Kerry Pearton, Donne Oxenham, Karen Bower, Faryn Halstead, Marlien Liebenberg, Kelly Madsen, Cindy Botha, Emma Bray, Jenna Cunliffe, Merel de Blaey, Terri-Lee Chelin, Wanri Venter, Jen Wilson (capt). Head coach: Lennie Botha. Assistant coach: Fabian Gregory. Physio: Megan Flaunders. Manager: Les Galloway.

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