KZN sides win but Free State shine brightest

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JONATHAN COOK

Greenfields Astro – Both Durban’s KZN Mynahs and Pietermaritzburg-based KZN Inland had successful opening days in the B Section of the SA Women’s Interprovincial Hockey Tournament (IPT) at Greenfields Turf in Princess Margaret Drive, PMB Sunday.

But it was coach Braam van Wyk’s exciting young Free State team who made the biggest statement for promotion to next year’s top tier A Section with a convincing 4-1 victory over a more-than-competent Western Province Peninsula (Pens) outfit.

Pens held Free State 0-0 at half-time but four goals in 16 minutes after the changeover set up the Bloemfontein girls’ success. Outstanding captain Liné Malan and superb Investec South Africa-capped striker Tanya Britz scored after penalty corners in the 43rd and 45th minutes with Pens pulling one back in the 48th via a well-struck Rezanne Villet PC hit, but Free State restored their two-goal winning margin when Nicole Kruger scored a field goal and the irrepressible Britz sealed a very good win with Free State’s goal number four in the 58th minute.

Inland disposed of a very disappointing, uncertain SA Country Districts A side 7-1 after leading 3-1 at half-time while Mynahs were way better than East Gauteng yet laboured to a 2-0 win after leading 1-0 at the changeover.

Vicky Jonker’s brace of field goals in the fourth and seventh minutes set the tone for KZN Inland and while Linnaea Vlok pulled one back for SACD via a PC in the 11th the writing was already on the wall.

Two minutes from half-time (33rd) Silindile Mbhele made it 3-1 from field play and after the turnaround Tiffany Jones (48th), Mbhele again (50th) and a brace from Michelle Dias in the 57th (penalty corner) and 62nd completed the rout.

“It was a good start, the girls gelled well, especially in the second half,” said Inland coach Devon van der Merwe. “It was an all-round consistent performance and the challenge is to maintain that throughout the week.”

When Inland started moving the ball more efficiently and at pace it freed up their defenders to attack and it will be interesting to see what tactics Zimbabwe come up with to counter that danger in Tuesday’s 12 noon clash. Zimbabwe looked good in their 8-0 win over SA Country Districts B in Sunday’s early match.
KZN Mynahs made life hard for themselves against a plucky East Gauteng (EG) by persisting in attacking through the middle rather than out wide, but dominated sufficiently to get three log points in the bag with well-taken field goals from Carla van Niekerk in the 28th minute for 1-0 at half-time before Danni Robbert made the game safe at 2-0 from field play in the 65th.

Outstanding for EG was goalkeeper Darné Van Ballagooyen who demonstrated how an in-form shot-stopper can keep her side in the game when the momentum of the match is going the opposition’s way.

The spirited Gautengers defended with heart and soul, one penalty corner being cleared off the goalline, while a number of other shots during the 70 minutes found Van Ballagooyen in the way through good positional play and impressive reflex saves.

Mynahs did not help themselves with some mediocre finishing but one particular move – the ball beginning with right half Amy Visagie and transferred smartly through four players down the right flank – indicated what they should have been doing all along against an enthusiastic but relatively limited opponent.

The few times she received passes, Visagie was clearly a threat as far as launching attacks was concerned, but seldom used- much to her side’s detriment.
Zimbabwe led SACD B 5-0 at half-time to set the platform – and their goals in the match came from Jessica Hilton-Barber (3), Nicky Watson, Michelle Williams, Iman Johnson, Fariyah Omarshah and Chelse Louw.

RESULTS
B Section: Zimbabwe 8 SA Country Districts B 0; KZN Mynahs 2 East Gauteng 0; Free State 4 Western Province Peninsula 1; KZN Inland 7 SA Country Districts A 1.

MONDAY’S FIXTURES
B Section (at Greenfields Turf unless stated): Free State vs East Gauteng (8am); EP Settlers vs SA Country Districts A (Maritzburg College 10am); Mpumalanga vs WP Peninsula (10am); KZN Inland vs Zimbabwe (12 noon).
Monday afternoon/evening: A Section teams’ training sessions.