Qualifying at the top of Pool A in the SA Hockey IPT A-Section semi-finals, the SA U21 team put up a spirited fight for the right to contest the 2012 final, but in the end multiple IPT-winning champions, South Gauteng, scored a thrilling 5-3 win to advance at the Randburg Astro, on Friday 24 August, 2012.
From the opening minutes to their opening goal, after an inspired solo play by Lilian du Plessis to flat-foot four Southerns defenders before neatly tucking the ball away on the reverse in the 11th minute, the SA U21 squad applied agility and speed to get under the skin of their more experienced opposition, and for much of the game that energy unsettled the Gauteng-based outfit’s composed pattern of play.
Then Southern Gauteng’s skipper Pietie Coetzee equalized in the 15th minute after Tsoanelo Pholo won a Penalty Stroke to give the Juniors some of their own medicine, sending keeper Phumela Mbande the wrong way to even scores.
Though Coetzee was again denied by the post as Southerns tried to exert superiority, their confidence was rewarded when Tanith Drake got a final touch to steer the ball in for their first lead in the semi-final, but their confidence was short-lived, when Jacinta Jubb slotted the equaliser five minutes later to resume pressure from the Juniors.
The second half saw Southerns’ Coetzee move herself from midfield into the attacking line in an effort to counter the threatening Juniors, and when the U21’s lost captain Izelle Lategan to a green card after a dangerous tackle, Coetzee didn’t waste time to backhand the ball for their third goal as soon as she got into the opponent’s D.
Back on the field, Lategan was just as quick off again after an injudicious tackle on her opposing captain Coetzee, and her absence counted for two more goals as Coetzee dragged low and hard for a two-goal cushion from a PC in the 52nd minute, a comfort that spurred Roxanne Turner to immediately take the tally to five with a brilliantly deceptive slow strike from open play.
Demi du Toit posed the Junior’s final threat when her shot, collected off the rebound, was touched in by Tiffany Jones after Lategan and du Plessis combined talent to win a Penalty Corner with less than 10mins remaining in the match.
With Southerns’ Sarah Harley off the field for a yellow, and despite their intense pressure in the final minutes, the U21’s late charge was not rewarded further before the hooter brought the curtain down on an inspired tournament for the Juniors.
Earlier in the afternoon the first semi-final saw Western Province take on the B-Pool’s log leaders Northerns, and though both teams qualified unbeaten, Northern’s five wins counted for greater weight against the defending champs’ so-so three wins and two draws.
But the form book wasn’t the order of the day as Jayde Mayne opened scoring for the Cape Town crew inside of the opening five minutes, and they benefited from prolonged possession that was unlucky not to see the lead doubled, until Suleke Brand’s score from a PC in the 24th minute, a feat repeated again from a PC three minutes later, to take the Capetonians into a 3-0 lead at half-time, as comfortable as it was for them as it was confounding for the Pretoria-based Northerns team.
The turn-around favoured the Gauteng outfit as the second half got underway, scoring from a Janie Porteous field goal three minutes into the last half, but though they threw wave after wave of attacks, their efforts were without success past the resilient WP defence.
With 15 minutes to go the Northerns’ pressure was rewarded when Marlene Cronje won Northerns a short corner, and Kim Hubach combined well with a wide Chrizelle Andries to light a spark of hope trailing by 3-2.
But it was not to be, and the rampant Northerns suffered their first 2012 IPT loss at the critical semi-finals stage, their inspiring pool-stage play left without reward, upset by a WP side that seems to be peaking perfectly after an unremarkable round-robin phase, for a mouth-watering replay of the 2011 Province vs Southern Gauteng final.
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A-Section Fixtures for Day 7, on Saturday, 25 August 2012: 09:00 11th-12th place: KZN Mynahs vs KZN Inland 11:00 9th-10th place: Amathole vs Kaspersky Wits 11:30 7th-8th place: KZN Raiders vs Free State 13:00 5th-6th place: Eastern Province vs North West 15:00 Bronze Medal Match: Northerns vs South Africa U21 17:00 Tournament Final: Western Province vs Kaspersky Southern Gauteng The SAHA 2012 Hockey Interprovincial Tournament, at the Randburg Astro from 19–25 August 2012: Section A: Pool A: SA U21 KZN Raiders Western Province Kaspersky Wits Amathole North West Pool B: Kaspersky Southerns Eastern Province Northerns Free State KZN Inland KZN Mynahs Results from Day 1 of the Women’s IPT A Section 2012, at the Randburg Astro on Sunday 19 August 2012: North West 1 – 4 SA U21 KZN Raiders 2 – 0 Amathole Eastern Province 6 – 0 KZN Inland Western Province 1 – 1 Kaspersky Wits Northerns 5 – 0 Free State Kaspersky Southerns 8 – 0 KZN Mynahs A Section Results from Day 2, on Monday, 20 August 2012: Northerns 7-0 KZN Inland North West 3-0 Kaspersky Wits Eastern Province 2-1 KZN Mynahs Western Province 6-2 Amathole KZN Raiders 1-3 SA U21 Kaspersky SG 5-1 Free State A Section Results from Day 3, on Tuesday, 21 August 2012: Kaspersky Wits 3-1 Amathole Northerns 1-0 Eastern Province Free State 2-0 KZN Mynahs KZN Raiders 2-2 North West Western Province 1-1 SA U21 Kaspersky SG 15-0 KZN Inland A Section Results from Day 4, on Wednesday, 22 August 2012: Northerns 1-0 KZN Mynahs Amathole 1-1 SA U21 Free State 6-0 KZN Inland Western Province 1-1 North West KZN Raiders 5-1 Kaspersky Wits Kaspersky SG 6-1 Eastern Province A Section Results from Day 5, on Thursday, 23 August 2012: KZN Mynahs 2-0 KZN Inland North West 4-1 Amathole Eastern Province 0-0 Free State Western Province 3-0 KZN Raiders Kaspersky Wits 2-3 SA U21 Kaspersky Southern Gauteng 3-4 Northerns A Section Results from Day 6, on Friday, 24 August 2012: Amathole 3-2 KZN Mynahs Kaspersky Wits 6-0 KZN Inland KZN Raiders 2-2 Eastern Province (EP Wins 3-2 at Shoot-Out) North West 3-0 Free State Semi-Final 1: Western Province 3-2 Northerns Semi-Final 2: SA U21 3-5 Kaspersky Southern Gauteng