Midlands in gripping match at tourney

2008-05-07 00:00

IN what was the most gripping match to date in the Interprovincial Tournament at the Absa NWU-Puk Hockey Stadium in Potchefstroom, last year’s finalists, KZN Midlands, were desperately unlucky last night not to pull off a come-from-behind victory over the talented South Africa U21

side.

This floodlit match had everything — breathtaking moments of skill and teamwork, hotly-disputed decisions and a stirring fight-back led by two of South Africa’s national players.

Making their long-awaited debuts in the tournament, captain Darryn Gallagher and 2007 SA Hockey Player of the Year Tommy Hammond pulled Midlands back from a 2-0 half-time deficit and the brink of IPT oblivion to draw 2-2 at the final whistle of what was a memorable example of the quality this country’s finest sportsmen have to offer.

For Midlands, goalkeeper Ryan Gray made two stunning stick saves from SA U21 penalty corners, right half Justin Domleo was constantly raiding down the right flank, Ryan Fensham was inspired up front, and Karl Oftebro and Jethro Eustice held the defence together with PG Geldenhuys.

For the SA juniors, Owen Mvimbi produced an awesome glimpse of skill that skinned his marker and set up Tauriq Ebrahim’s goal, Tim Drummond and Wade Paton had epic confrontations with Gallagher and Hammond in midfield, Matt Botha was in imperious form up front in the first half, while Dalan Phillips was in razor-sharp mood in pouncing on a careless Midlands error to slam SA U21’s second past a defenceless Gray in goal.

Fensham went on a mazy run along the left wing and his shot rebounded off the goalkeeper for Gallagher to reverse-stick home a wonderful goal. Then a purposeful Matt Coombes drive forward brought the PC with which PG Geldenhuys nearly burst the net, his blinding drag-flick bringing the much-awaited equaliser.

It was a game that all who watched it will savour.

Today offers some attractive match-ups. The Battle of the Cape between East and West takes place at 2.30 pm, while Northerns versus Midlands always produces something to remember and let’s not forget SA U21 against a hurting Mynahs, plus the impressive Pens crossing sticks with the blossoming talent that is North West Province hockey.

DAY 3 LOGS

(All played three, pool position, goal difference, points)

Pool A: 1. WP (GD +22) 9 pts; 2. EP (GD+9) 6 pts; 3. North West (GD+7) 6 pts; 4. KZN Raiders (GD+3) 6 pts; 5. Pens (GD-11) 0 pts; 6. Namibia (GD-30) 0 pts.

Pool B: 1. Southerns (GD+16) 9 pts; 2. Northerns (GD+12) 6 pts; 3. SA U21 (GD+3) 4 pts; 4. KZN Midlands (GD 0) 4 pts; 5. KZN Mynahs (GD-13) 3 pts; 6. EP Settlers (GD-18) 0 pts.

DAY 3 RESULTS

KZN Raiders (3) 5 (Gareth Carr 3, Shaun Baker, Wade Paton) WP Peninsula (1) 2 (Hedley Gerhardt, Anthony Weinberg); Northerns Blues (5) 11 (Matt Rose 3, Kyle Rhodes 2, Gavin Jelley, Vaughn Erasmus, Onele Qubuda 2, Jonty Robinson, Francois Pretorius) EP Settlers 0; Southern Gauteng (6) 11 (Ricky West 4, Lloyd Norris-Jones, Malcolm Arguile, Barry-John Wilson, Lance Louw, Tebogo Lerole 2, Shaun Davenhill) KZN Mynahs 0; WP (8) 16 (Rob Grant 3, Ian Haley 3, Adam Wilson 2, Craig Haley 2, Craig Ross 3, Matt McConkey 3) Namibia 0; North West (0) 1 (Jardus Smith) EP 0; KZN Midlands (0) 2 (Darryn Gallagher, PG Geldenhuys) SA U21 (2) 2 (Tauriq Ebrahim, Dalan Philips).

DAY 4 FIXTURES

Pitch A: Southerns vs EP Settlers (9 am); Midlands vs Northerns (10.30 am); SA U21 vs Mynahs (1 pm); WP vs EP (2.30 pm); Pens vs North West (4 pm). Pitch B: Raiders vs Namibia (4 pm).

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