Pool A of the women’s under 21 IPT hockey tournament in Bloemfontein was thrown wide open yesterday with Eastern Province thumping KwaZulu-Natal 5-1 and defending champions playing to a 1-1 draw with North West.
In the derby game Lerato Mahlangu opened the scoring for North West with three minutes before the half-time break by scoring from a short corner after dominating most of the possession throughout the opening stanza.
In the second half the hosts started coming into the game a little more by taking more control of the midfield and holding onto the ball a little longer, however the finishing touches still lacked with numerous star players not firing on all cylinders.
Sadly the tight match saw no less than eight cards being dished out of which three were yellow and five were green. During the third chukka Free State received three greens in less than a minute and the side did exceptionally well to ride the pressure for a few minute with just 8 players on the field.
The last 10 minutes of the game, Free State turned the tide and piled the pressure on the North West defence which led to the girls in reds conceding a few short corners.
As the full-time hooter sounded, Antonette Louw drove the ball into the back of the net for the equaliser, making up for her missed penalty shot earlier in the half.
Following the match, Free State captain and Proteas midfielder, Nicole Walraven told OFM Sport that there is plenty of hard work lying ahead for them today.
“The pressure at the end gave us all a heart attack, but at least it relieves a bit of the pressure because we need at least a draw or a win today to make it a bit easier for tomorrow, but we have tomorrow to go through to the final,” the shy captain said.
“It will probably be our midfield working much harder and our forwards working harder in the circle and making the most of the our opportunities and playing together as a team because we can play a really good game of hockey, but I’m sure out girls will pull through and win it,” Walraven added about their areas for improvement heading into todays’ match against Eastern Province.
At 13:00 this afternoon the Pool B match between Northerns and last year’s losing finalists Western Province promises to be a thriller with Province looking to bounce back after their shock 5-2 loss to Southerns yesterday.
North West faces KwaZulu-Natal Inland this morning at 11:30, while Free State take on Eastern Province this afternoon at 15:30.
Day Four results:
Pool A – KwaZulu-Natal Inland 0 vs. Namibia 1, Eastern Province 5 vs. KwaZulu-Natal Coastals 1, Free State 1 vs. North West 1.
Pool B – Western Province Peninsula 9 vs. Free State B 0, Western Province 2 vs. Southern 5, Northerns 9 vs. Witsies 0.
Day Five fixtures:
Pool A – 11:30 North West vs. KwaZulu-Natal Inland, 13:30 KwaZulu-Natal Coastals vs. Namibia, 15:30 Free State vs. Eastern Province.
Pool B – 11:00 Wities vs. Free State B, 13:00 Western Province vs. Northerns, 15:00 Southerns vs. Western Province Peninsula.