Giants Clash at Hartleyvale
Northerns produced a stirring second half fightback to take the bragging rights into their bronze medal playoff with KwaZulu Natal Raiders after winning a nine-goal thriller on the penultimate day of the Spar women’s hockey interprovincial at Hartleyvale Stadium in Cape Town on Friday.
Meanwhile, Western Province and Southern Gauteng, the tournament’s top two sides who clinched their berths on Saturday’s final on Thursday, warmed up for the big showdown with comfortable wins over KZN Midlands and Eastern Province respectively in their final pool games.
Southerns weren’t all that convincing in defeating EP 4-0 after leading 1-0 at halftime, but coach Adrian Carolan felt some changes they made to rest key players probably disrupted their rhythm. There’s no doubt they’ll be up to speed for Saturday’s final.
WP cruised to an 8-0 drubbing of KZN Midlands to top section A on goal difference, but that will all be in the past when they meet their arch-rivals on Saturday in what should be another terrific battle for women’s provincial hockey supremacy.
The match of the day, however, belonged to Northerns and the Raiders, who got to grips in the opening fixture of the afternoon programme.
Northerns opened the scoring with an excellent move down the right flank which involved Dani Forword and Dirkie Chamberlain. The upshot was a superb goal from Forword as the Blues drew first blood.
But the Raiders hit back in stunning fashion, scoring three goals in an 11-minute burst which gave them the halftime lead at 3-1. First Terri-Lee Chelin netted after a rebound from the goalkeeper’s pads and then striker Kerry Gaze produced a brilliant one-handed flick to put the Raiders in front.
Defensive lapses in their circle by Northerns allowed Cindy Botha to make it 3-1, although Northerns created enough chances with six penalty corners against none to underline their territorial advantage.
After the break, it was a different story as Northerns came storming back. This time they began to find their finishing touch and goals by Marcelle Keet, Grizelle Andries and a second by Forword saw them charge back to lead 4-3.
The Raiders levelled the score in exciting fashion when Jen Wilson found herself in space, fed Gaze down the right flank, who crossed the ball for Botha to finish it off in style.
Northerns, however, were not to be denied and they hit back immediately when Chamberlain smashed home a reverse stick from short range to complete the scoring at 5-4.
Both sides know, however, that it will be a completely new chapter when they meet in the third place playoff on Saturday.
In section B, Peninsula, beaten finalists last year, completed an excellent week with their fifth straight win, thumping neighbours Boland 10-0. Pens will be hoping to make it six wins in a row on Saturday when they take on North West, who also showed their goal-scoring form in drilling EP Settlers 9-1, in the final.