Indoor Hockey Glory for the KZN Raiders

img_1754It’s been a riveting weekend of indoor hockey in Bellville down in the Western Cape. There have been more goals than controversial statements from Donald Trump and as the weekend progressed the quality of the hockey started to experience an upsurge as well. Ultimately it was the expected KZN Raiders who did the job and emerged victorious.

After the group stages were completed on Friday, the knock out stages is where the tournament truly begins and the quality of games really backed that statement up.  The Raiders continued on their relentless march in both the women’s and men’s tournament where the victims of their brutally efficient hockey was the WP Pens and Mpumalanga respectively.

There was a major upset in the Quarter finals of the men’s tournament as an opening salvo of supreme pace and relentless attack saw the Southern Gauteng “B” Side, known as Wits march to an early lead against the KZN Inland side. It was a lead they would not release and they ended up victors with one of the displays of the tournament. There reward though was a match against the unstoppable Raiders in the Semi-Final where Ryan Hack’s men could not be stopped.

img_1823The other Men’s semi-final produced the greatest showdown spectacle I have ever been fortunate enough to witness. It took 11 rounds of showdowns before Southern Gauteng finally emerged victorious 7-6 against Western Province after being 2-0 down in the actual game itself. Kamal Ramburth-Hurt, who played for the SA men against the All Stars in December last year, scored the most audacious flick that left Becker fuming and the crowd roaring!

With the Velodrome surface playing fast and the players getting used to it, the importance of close control was high and it’s no surprise that the teams that used this to move the ball were having the most success, much like the KZN Raiders ladies. The Raiders were almost belligerent in how they dismissed their Western Province counterparts in the final to retain the title. Province who were superbly coached by Brinsley Powell, decided to pull their keeper to chase the game, but probably a bit too early and the Raiders were able to add the gloss to the scoreline that arguably their tournament domination had deserved.

img_1832The men’s final was an altogether different affair. Southern Gauteng were the heavy underdogs but started with a bang when Kyle Marks scored from a rebound, the Raiders fought back before a sensational goal by Brandon James gave Southerns the lead again. Raiders, not to be outdone fought back with a great team goal finished off by Greg Last.  After half time the Southerns boys started to tire and the Raiders almost looked to have more energy and raised the game to another level. After taking the lead through inspirational skipper Fairweather and another through Eustice, the Raiders employed a brand of game management that would make the All Blacks proud in seeing it out.

The tournament was undoubtedly one of the best indoor IPT’s that we have seen in South Africa, although there is room for improvement. The involvement of PSi in hosting the IPT raised the tournament to a better level and it would make sense if a continued involvement was sought out for them by SA Hockey.

In terms of the individual awards the top goalscorers awards were shared in the men’s by Jethro Eustice (Raiders) and Gavin Jelley (Inland), and incredibly shared in the ladies as well by Cindy Hack and Eloise Walters (both Raiders). Matthew Becker did is own national hopes no hurt, by being named keeper of the tournament while Nicole le Fleur won the award for the lady. Lastly it was to player of the tournament which was easily won by Jethro Eustice in the mens tournament. In the ladies tournament Nicole de Vries, who had received stiches on Friday when a mask hit her, was named the player of the tournament.

Final Positions

Men’s Indoor Inter Provincial Tournament Women’s Indoor Inter Provincial Tournament
1.  KZN Raiders 1.       KZN Raiders
2.  Southern Gauteng 2.       Western Province
3.  Western Province 3.       KZN Mynahs
4.  Wits 4.       Southern Gauteng
5.  KZN Inland 5.       North West
6.  WP Pens 6.       KZN Inland
7.  Eastern Gauteng 7.       WP Pens
8.  Mpumalanga 8.       Mpumalanga
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