Indoor IPT 2017 | We are the Champions!

When Queen penned the lyrics to “We are the champions” I imagine the thought that every major sporting event would have the song ringing out was not at the forefront of their minds. It was however at the forefront of the SPAR KZN Raiders ladies and men today as they successfully defended their Indoor IPT titles.

The SPAR KZN Raiders are a supremely well-oiled machine, who are able to click through the gears remarkably well. It is hard to pick a weakness in their team. At the back, they are superb as seen by the fact that they have not conceded more than 6 goals in the tournament. Less than two a game. Jess O’Connor, Jenna Shuker and Kara Botes offer a sturdy base, ahead of two superb keepers in Zimi Shange and Cheree Greyvenstein, from which the creative flair of Kelly Reed, Shelly Jones and Teagan Fourie are well able to flourish. Up front, the abilities of Cindy Hack and Shelly Higgo and Sethu Sithole are more than enough to punish the opposition.

In the final, the KZN Inland ladies found that out first hand as the Raiders were in clinical mood playing in their white reverse kit. Kelly Reed broke their early stalemate when she netted from a penalty corner and it was all SPAR Raiders from then. The exciting Teagan Fourie netted the second which was quickly followed up by Kara Botes with the third. Two more goals were added in the first half through Cindy Hack and Kara Botes, while Kelly Reed was showing why she is rated as one of the best players in South African Indoor Hockey in a dazzling display.

The second half saw the SPAR KZN Raiders close out the final in a professional manner, limiting the KZN Inland chances to half chances at best and finished off the final with a convincing 6th goal by Shelley Jones after more great work from Reed and Higgo. It was a victory that was well deserved for the hosts who were tested very rarely in the tournament but always passed with flying colours.

Ladies Player of the Tournament – Cindy Hack (SPAR KZN Raiders)

Goalkeeper of the Tournament – Nicole la Fleur (Western Province)

Top Goalscorer – Lilian du Plessis (Southern Gauteng)

FINAL POSITIONS

1 – SPAR KZN Raiders
2 – KZN Inland
3 – Western Province
4 – North West
5 – KZN Mynahs
6 – Southern Gauteng
7 – Northern Blues
8 – Mpumalanga

The Men’s final was played between the two top teams in the tournament, with both having won five out of five to make it to the final. It was a tense affair as the two teams battled it out for national glory. Southern Gauteng had early momentum and won a few penalty corners, but they were kept out well by the rear-guard of the Raiders, who in turn had penalty corners but found Jason Briggs in inspired form consistently denying Jethro Eustice.

The game came to life in the 15th minute when Julian Hykes was given a green card and when the penalty corner was kept out Jethro Eustice popped up with the field goal to break the deadlock. Julian Hykes then had a shot saved on the line brilliantly by Robin Jones. Halftime and the score was 1-0 in favour of the Raiders.

If the first half was a tentative affair, the second half looked like it wouldn’t be the same as Southern Gauteng scored a fantastic penalty corner through Spencer Botes, but in the same minute, the Raiders pulled ahead again as a Jarryd Jones cross was inadvertently directed in by Miguel da Graca. Matt Fairweather then made it 3-1 when he coolly converted a penalty stroke awarded by Peter Caulder after foul play on Justin Domleo by Rusten Abrahams.

Raiders were turning up the heat and Wade Paton then smashed home a penalty corner to put Raiders 4-1 up with just 9 minutes remaining. A minute later Jethro Eustice finished off a break to make it 5-1.  With 6 minutes remaining Southern Gauteng took off Briggs to play the extra outfield player and immediately won a Penalty corner which was converted through Julian Hykes. Jethro Eustice was then shown a yellow card for his team misbehaving on the bench and Raiders would see out the game a player short. That didn’t stop them though as a mistake from Southerns was punished by Geoff Abbott finishing into an empty net.

Julian Hykes would pull a consolation goal back with the last play of the game, but it was not enough as KZN Raiders won the game and were announced as champions for the third consecutive year! Remarkably it meant that the Raiders have now continued to hold both the male and female trophies for indoor and outdoor hockey!

Men’s Player of the Tournament – Jethro Eustice (KZN Raiders)

Goalkeeper of the Tournament – Chris McCathie (KZN Raiders)

Top Goalscorer – Ryan Julius (Western Province)

FINAL POSITIONS

1 – KZN Raiders
2 – Southern Gauteng
3 – Western Province
4 – KZN Inland
5 – KZN Mynahs
6 – Northern Blues
7 – North West
8 – Mpumalanga

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