Southern Gauteng edge KZN Coastals in tight final

2009-08-31 00:00

COACH Ryan Millela’s Southern Gauteng team won the Spar Women’s Interprovincial Hockey Tournament with a tense 2-1 victory over a gallant KZN Coastals Raiders at the Tshwane University of Technology Hockey Stadium in Pretoria on Saturday afternoon.

“It’s fantastic to win IPT again, from the players who were in the last title-winning side at the AB Jackson Greenfields Turf in Pietermaritzburg four years ago to the girls who have had their first taste of senior IPT success,” said Southerns and Spar SA captain Marsha Marescia.

Millela said Southerns’ Bernadette Coston was “the hardest working striker at IPT”, Nicole de Vries “did a great job marking Jen Wilson”, “Marsha and Lisa Deetlefs were our engine room”, and “Fiona Butler must have been very close to Player of the Tournament”.

Apart from those deserving special praise, Millela said every member of the Southerns team put their hands up when needed.

Coastals coach Lennie Botha said he was “very proud” of his girls, and felt a top four finish was their aim, but they had gone one better in having “a real chance to win gold”.

England international and Coastals captain Crista Cullen echoed her coach’s thoughts, and said in hindsight the Raiders needed to have put more pressure on Southerns goalkeeper Leandre Janse van Rensburg. “But I am a very proud captain today.”

Southerns, who dominated the first 25 minutes with their high-tempo brand of total hockey, went into half-time at 0-0 with a gutsy Raiders, and one wondered if they hadn’t squandered a gilt-edged opportunity to build a comfortable cushion at the changeover.

Perhaps this realisation sparked their storming second-half salvo and the on-song Tsoanelo Pholo opened the scoring inside a minute after the break. The outstanding Coston won a penalty corner and the slip-left ultimately fell to Marescia, whose initial shot rebounded off Raiders goalkeeper Megan Flanders’s pads for Pholo to net (1-0).

Hardly 60 seconds later the on-fire Coston created initially, for Leeanne Neilson’s cross from the right wing to be touched on by Marescia and Pholo was again perfectly positioned to score her second (2-0).

Pholo (nine goals) was the IPT Top Goalscorer, while the consistent, skilled and cool Lisa Deetlefs was the deserved Player of the Tournament.

Raiders certainly had their chances, but Southerns held the edge in this final. Raiders captain Cullen’s girls were not finished yet, though, and their brave comeback was rewarded when my player of the match Jen Wilson netted a reverse-stick scorcher with 27 minutes left.

But it was not enough as Southerns’ golden girls kept their heads till the final whistle. Whatever the result, Raiders coach Botha had every reason to be proud of his fine team’s performance, but it wasn’t enough to bring Coastals their first IPT title since 1987.

KZN Inland withstood a concerted WP Peninsula assault on their circle in the latter stages of the second half to come out 3-2 winners in the A Section play-off for the wooden spoon, a two-goal cushion at half-time proving decisive. Inland’s goals came from Kara Stella, Robyn Pearson and Rachel Froneman.

RESULTS

A Section: (7/8) KZN Inland 3 WP Peninsula 2; (5/6) Western Province 9 Witwatersrand 0; (3/4) Northerns Blues 5 North West 1; Spar Trophy Final: Southern Gauteng 2 KZN Coastal Raiders 1.

B Section: (9/10) Free State 3 Boland 1; (7/8) Southern Cape 4 Northern Cape 3; (5/6) SA Country Districts 2 Namibia 1; (3/4) Northerns B 2 Mpumalanga 1; President’s Cup Final: Eastern Province 5 Border 1.

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