Top Seeds Book Finals Berths
Southern Gauteng and Western Province yesterday cemented their places in the final of the SPAR inter-provincial Tournament (IPT) in matches that couldn’t have been any different.
Southern Gauteng battled their way to a 3-2 victory over Northerns in the first match of the day, while Western Province annihilated Easterns Province in their 10-0 win.
Southern Gauteng went 2-0 up early on in the game when Sharne Bailey scored two field goals in quick succession in the first four minutes. Adrian Carolan, Southern Gauteng coach, then substituted some of his top players and cruised to halftime with the two-goal advantage.
Northerns, who are looking much stronger in the competition this year, awoke from their slumber in the second half and pulled a goal back in the 54th minute through a penalty corner.
The score-line had Carolan in a slight panic and his veterans were back on the field to settle matters. It was Carla Botha, though, who scored the third goal for Southern Gauteng in the 65th minute, but Northerns’ Louisa Moore put one in three minutes from time to heighten the tension.
Southerns, however, controlled matters to end of the match and fought off any challenge Eastern Province threw their way.
"(Northerns) always believed they could win and so they were a really tough team to beat, but we just glad to get to the finals at this stage of the competition already," said Carolan. "It was a calculated risk to rest some of the players, but in the end it worked out."
Northerns coach, Gregg Hesom, said he happy with the fact his team could apply such pressure on a team like Southern Gauteng, and to see the gap close between the top two teams and the rest of the field.
"My girls played extremely well, but at the end of the day it’s goals that count and that’s why they won," he said, "My team is working really hard and we getting closer to (Western Province and Southern Gauteng)."
The rest the Southern Gauteng senior players have been given this week has been much appreciated and captain Marsha Marescia, who was away on national duty along with team-mates Bailey and Fiona Butler, said they were in great shape as they near the reach they end of the week.
"We are so fortunate that we’ve been able to rest a bit this week without the standard of play dropping at all," said the young skipper, "There are only 16 of us here this week, so we can’t rest too much, but we are grateful for our time out."
Southern Gauteng may have a adopted a more relaxed strategy here this week, but Western Province have decided that ruthless is the only way to play it. Province were always going to beat Eastern Province easily, but nobody predicted the hammering they would dish out.
Province were already six goals up by halftime, and if Eastern Province weren’t convinced then that they should be playing in the B-section then the four goals that came later did the trick.
Henna du Buisson, an SA international, finally got on score sheet this week when she poached a couple for Province, with team-mates Shelley Russell and Ilse Davids completing the demolition job.
Province captain Kate Hector said they made a point of keeping their foot on the gas despite their obvious advantage. "We just had to keep going," she said.
"We had to show respect to our opponents and it gave some girls a chance who have missed out to prove themselves this week."
With the final already decided, KZN Raiders went into the Natal derby with only bragging rights to play for. KZN Midlands aren’t exactly one of the strongest teams in the competition, so another hammering was on the cards.
Raiders romped to a comfortable 6-0 victory over their neighbours, and coach Brendon Carolan was pleased with the result.
"I’m happy with the level of play we’ve been able to maintain this week and I think the girls did very well today," he said.