Teams in final tussle

2015-04-24 00:00

THERE was drama aplenty on day four of the Greenfields SA U21 men’s ­Interprovincial Tournament at the AB Jackson Greenfields Turf yesterday as teams battled it out to remain in contention for tomorrow’s medal matches, or avoid the dreaded battle for last place.

Not in this tussle were Western Province, last year’s champions, who had ­already assured themselves a place in tomorrow’s 1 pm final by Wednesday.

They continued their flawless run in Pool A with a comprehensive 8-0 defeat of a dogged South Gauteng Witsies who did everything in their power to concede as few goals as possible.

The big game saw Pool B hopefuls Northern Blues all but cement their spot in the final when they beat the impressive underdog, WP Peninsula, 6-2 yesterday. It was Blues’ more assured skill in the strike zone that was the major difference, and if anyone has the slightest chance of beating Western Province it is the ­Pretorians.

The most hotly contested and ­controversial match was the KZN derby between hosts KZN Inland and arch-rivals 80-odd km down the N3, KZN Coastal Raiders.

Raiders had to win to stay within striking distance of Blues while Inland were determined to upstage their coastal cousins and in the process get points to avoid tomorrow’s wooden spoon match.

The match was packed full of contentious decisions — and they were big game changers.

Arguably the fastest player here with stick and ball in unison is Inland striker Tevin Kok and he burnt his marker down the left wing after being freed from deep by former Maritzburg College team-mate Tyson Dlungwana in the 15th minute, only to be clearly upended in the strike zone.

To the utter disbelief of the vociferous home fans, who arrived in numbers during the game, the interference with Kok did not earn a penalty stroke or even a penalty corner. Soon after half-time the Raiders won the first of two penalty strokes — and one at least was not warranted.

In the 45th minute, Dale van der ­Merwe converted the Raiders’ second opportunity from the penalty spot, this after Steven McManus had finished ­clinically to open the scoring for the Durbanites in the 40th minute.

After the Raiders’ first effort from the penalty spot effort had been missed, Inland had a penalty corner strike saved on the goalline by defender Kelly Taylor-Stack at the other end — and this just about summed up the home province’s major problem, the inability to make their penalty corner chances count.

Key matches in Pool B today see Raiders having the near-impossible task of beating Peninsula by eight clear goals to pip Blues for a berth in the gold medal match, while Inland and Eastern Province will be desperate to beat each other to avoid the wooden spoon affair on Saturday. In Pool A, South Gauteng Wits, Free State and North West are all fighting the same battle as EP and Inland.

LOGS

(matches in brackets, goal difference, log points)

Pool A: 1 Western Province (4) GD29, 12pts; 2 Southern Gauteng (3) GD1, 4pts; 3 Free State (3) GD-5, 2pts; 4 North West (3) GD-11, 2pts; 5 South Gauteng Witsies (3) GD-14, 1pt.

Pool B: 1 Northern Blues (4) GD10, 10pts; 2 KZN Raiders (3) GD3, 7pts; 3 Western Province Peninsula (3) GD-2, 6pts; 4 Eastern Province (3) GD-5 0pts; 5 KZN Inland (3) GD-6, 0pts.

RESULTS

WP 8 Wits 0; Blues 6 Pens 2; Free State 2 North West 2; KZN Inland 1 KZN Raiders 2.

FIXTURES

9 am Free State vs Wits; 11 am KZN Raiders vs Pens; 1 pm Southerns vs North West; 3 pm KZN Inland vs EP.

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