Gauteng Edge out Province in Epic SA U19 Water Polo IPT Final

Heartbreak for Western Province as Gauteng summon the reserves to overturn a 2-1 deficit and beat the tournament hosts to defend their Schools Water Polo SA IPT title in the final in Gqeberha, Eastern Cape, on Wednesday

The Central Gauteng A U19 Girls have successfully defended their Schools Water Polo South Africa Inter-Provincial title after they edged Western Province A 12-10 in the final in Gqeberha, Eastern Cape, on Wednesday, 13 December, 2023.

The Gauteng side, one of the most successful teams in the past decade at the tournament, were forced to dig deep against a resilient Province side in front of an energetic crowd at the Grey High School swimming pool.

Both sides were high in confidence coming into the final after maintaining 100 percent records throughout the pool stages and knock-out matches.

They matched up well, with Gauteng proving ruthless in front of goal throughout the week, while Western Province coach Nicola Barrett’s troops were resolute in defence, despite conceding a few goals in the latter stages of the knock-out matches.

Seeking to get out of the blocks quickly, both sides began the match at a high tempo, with Gauteng opening the scoring early in the first quarter through a Jenna Penney penalty.

Province hit back immediately with two goals from Morgan Christian. First, she found herself in space and slotted the ball in the right-hand corner before some interlinking passes between her teammates created another opportunity for Christian to grab a second and put Province 2-1 ahead after the first eight minutes.

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The match opened up in the second and third chukkas, and that’s when Gauteng hit the front.

Coach Etienne le Roux’s experienced side was able to extricate itself out of pressure situations and his players came to life, scoring four times to take the lead from their Cape rivals. Frequent goal scorer, Mia Loizides, was once again in the front line, grabbing a hattrick, while Kara Wicht, who had come to the fore over the previous two days, also got her name onto the scoreboard.

Trailing by two goals entering the final quarter, Western Province looked hurried and harassed in front of goal, whereas Gauteng were firing on all cylinders and building scoreboard pressure.

They closed out the match with three late goals by Loizides, Wicht, and Francesca de Villiers. Try as they might, Province just couldn’t reel in the Central Gauteng total despite impressive showings by Morgan Christian and Hannah Banks, who both contributed four goals apiece.

“We made it a bit tough in the final. I thought that we could’ve done a bit better, but at the end of the day, a gold medal is a gold medal,” Le Roux told SuperSport Schools after the final whistle.

In the second quarter, Central Gauteng A appeared to be a mere shadow of the side they were in their semifinal clash against their B team, and they were doing just enough to stay in the contest.

Le Roux said he didn’t have to do that much talking at half-time. “I think, in the beginning, we created a lot of chances, and we just didn’t put the ball in the back of the net,” he said.

Coach’s Winning Advice

“We spent about three minutes at halftime breathing, and everyone with their eyes closed, and I just told the players that they’ve got this, and they just needed to execute like they’ve done in the last four to five years of their careers.

“I’m just so proud of the team, and their efforts and the hard work they’ve put in during the last weeks. It’s been amazing to see them get this reward,” he concluded.

For Province, their wait for an IPT title continues, and it’s another heartbreak in the final against the same opponents, who also defeated them in the 2018 title game.

They will, however, hold their heads up high having shown fighting spirit until the final whistle.

Their goalkeeper, Naledi Kaseya, was influential in keeping her side within reach of Central Gauteng, pulling off a total of eight saves in the first three chukkas of the match.

Coach Barrett had words of praise for her net-minder: “I think our keeper had a hell of a game today, and she pulled out all the stops,” Barrett said.

She also admitted she didn’t think her players brought their best to the final: “I thought our energy was really low. I don’t think we replicated the energy we brought against KZN, and that was probably because the nerves got to us in the second and third chukkas.

“We just made silly little mistakes, but I’m super happy with the girls. I thought we did well.”

Western Province Coach, Nicola Barrett 

Earlier in the day, KwaZulu-Natal came just short of claiming the bronze medal when they were edged out 4-3 in a penalty shootout by Central Gauteng B in the 3rd/4th play- off match.

KZN started brightly and led 5-3 at halftime, courtesy of goals by Christy Dudas, Marlise Pretorius, and a hat-trick by Taylor Cherry.

Central Gauteng’s Amy Smith led the fightback, netting twice, while Amy Mather struck three times, and Tatum Rogers and Morgan Harrison added goals to leave the contest knotted up a 7-7 after regulation time.

Nelson Mandela Bay also ended their campaign on a high by claiming a 13-10 win over their provincial rivals, Buffalo City, to finish fifth at home.

Zimbabwe picked up a 6-4 win against Western Province B, and Eastern Gauteng finished 10th after thumping the Northern Tigers 20-3.

Final Standings of the Schools Water Polo South Africa Inter-Provincial in Gqeberha, Eastern Cape, on Wednesday, from 8-13 December, 2023

Central Gauteng A
Western Province A
Central Gauteng B
Nelson Mandela Bay
Buffalo City
Western Province B
Eastern Gauteng 
Northern Tiger

Finals Day 5 Results at the Schools Water Polo SA IPT

Central Gauteng A 12-10 Western Province A

Central Gauteng A – Jenna Penney (3), Mia Loizides (5), Kara Wicht (3), Francesca de Villiers
Western Province A – Morgan Christian (4), Hannah Banks (4), Emily van Heerden (2)

Central Gauteng B 7 (4)- KwaZulu-Natal 7 (3)

KwaZulu-Natal – Christy Dudas, Taylor Cherry (3), Marlise Pretorius, Annabelle Hardie, Caitlin McMurray
Central Gauteng B – Amy Mather (3), Tatum Rogers, Amy Smith (2), Morgan Harrison

Nelson Mandela Bay 13-10 Buffalo City

Nelson Mandela Bay – Teagan Harty (3), Amie Jenner, Matipa Karimazondo (3), Anna Pinto (4), Jamie Lacey, Olivia Connellan
Buffalo City – Chelsy Hendry (2), Jasmine Koch (2), Alex Albers (2), Tori Voke (2), Gemma Hannafay, Gabbi Whitebooi

Zimbabwe 6-4 Western Province B

Zimbabwe – Erin Bent (4), Erin van Hoof, Lauren Ashwin
Western Province B – Isabella Tooley, Amy Pettipher, Abigail Bester (2)

Eastern Gauteng 20-3 Northern Tigers

Eastern Gauteng – Maddison Griffin (7), Megan Keira Venter (3), Emma Nicle Spronk (2), Myra Strydom (3), Alana Vermaak, Alshe Hope de Klerk, Jessica Edkins, Akunna Chikeka
Northern Tigers – Ngandu Darina Muzungu (2), Meghan Venn

Original Copy: Avuyile Sawula at

Photo Caption: Supplied

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