Undoubtedly all eyes were on the final game of day 1 of the 2018 Men’s IPT, where Tuffy Western Province would take on the SA Invitational U21 side. In a group that features both last year’s winners SPAR KZN Raiders and 2016 winners Southern Gauteng, an early loss would make the mountain far more difficult in the route to the crown.
The game produced a humdinger as Tuffy Western Province, captained by former national skipper Austin Smith, took the lead through Callum Buchanan in the 22nd minute and made it 2-0 on the stroke of half time when Luthando Jonas finished off smartly. Keenan Horne made it 3-0 to Tuffy Western Province in the third quarter before the SA Invitational U21 fought back.
Dayaan Cassiem, playing against his home province, pulled one goal back before a 51st minute Matthew Roman goal created a frenetic finish in front of two of South Africa’s top referees Peter Wright and Ayden Shrives. Tuffy Western Province would hang on for a massive three points and ending the day in a happier position.
Earlier in the day two of the three Southern Gauteng sides dominated their matches with Southern Gauteng and Witsies easily seeing off North West and Free State respectively. Nic Spooner, a man all fans would love to see in Green and gold again, netted a hat-trick, which itself was matched by Matt Brown, while the Witsies side were spurred on by a brace from Kingsley Botes and Chad Futcher.
SPAR KZN Raiders, the defending champions, also had cause for happiness as 7 different scorers got their names on the scoresheet including Greg Last who netted two. The Northern Blues were also pushed all the way in their entertaining 2-1 win against the WP Pens. Dirk van der Spuy the hero when he scored in the 53rd minute.
In the opening game of the day Eastern Province were barely troubled putting together a fine 4-0 win against the KZN Mynahs, with Ignatius Malgraff coming to the fore again.
The Men’s IPT has produced some remarkable results in recent years with Witsies, SA Under 21 and WP Pens all making the finals in the last 5 years and we all know what happened when Pens made the final. In IPT there may be an “A” and “B” section, but there is no such thing as a “B” Team
Day 1 Results – A Section
Eastern Province 4-0 KZN Mynahs
Southern Gauteng 13-0 North West
Witsies 6-1 Free State
SPAR KZN Raiders 8-2 SG Nuggets
Northern Blues 2-1 WP Peninsula
Tuffy Western Province 3-2 SA Invitational U21