The final day of the group stages took place at the AB Jackson Astro Turf in Pietermaritzburg today with all eyes on the big matchup between Tuffy Western Province and the KZN Raiders. It was a cooler evening on the astro as temperatures dropped, but the action more than made up for it as tensions reached a peak.
The opening quarter was a tentative affair but with some massive tackles, some incredibly physical, as Tuffy Western Province had the best chance of the half through Ryan Julius. The indoor and outdoor national player was not able to beat Gowan Jones in goal with his reverse stick strike. The Raiders started the second quarter with renewed purpose and probably should have had the lead through national captain Tim Drummond. Raiders were in the ascendancy winning three penalty corners in the quarter with Bili Ntuli finishing brilliantly after Greg Lasts effort was saved. 1-0 it remained until half-time.
In the third quarter it was continued pressure from the Raiders limiting the opportunities for Tuffy Western Province, with Keenan Horne looking the most likely to create something, but ultimately Jethro Eustice, Greg Last and Tim Drummond were brilliant in marshalling the defence. It remained 1-0 at the end of the third quarter.
The final quarter started in much the same way and after a superb through ball by Ntuli set up Taine Paton for a big opportunity that was fantastically saved with the helmet by Anton van Loggerenberg, the increased pressure eventually told for Raiders. They finished off a superb team goal with a mature dink by Dan Sibbald to make it 2-0.
Earlier in the day Southern Gauteng and Witsies both completed 100% group stage efforts with victories over SA Invitational U21 and Northerns Blues respectively. Southerns were tested by Garreth Ewings men far more than they would have liked but picked up a narrow 3-2 win through Nic Spooner, Courtney Halle and Namibian Brynn Cleak. Witsies were full value for their 2-1 win taking an early 2-0 lead through a Kyle Lion-Cachet brace. And despite conceding from Tim Guise-Brown, they managed to see out the pressure and set up a semi-final meeting with the Raiders
Southern Gauteng Nuggets produced an improved display that will raise hopes that they can avoid relegation despite a 4-2 defeat to North West. Free State also secured their first victory of the tournament when they overcame the Mynahs early in the day.
In the B Section the Northern Daisies were belligerent in dismissing Northern Cape A, KZN Inlands were defeated easily by Northern Cape B and SA Country Districts produced a superb display in a 5-1 win against Mpumalanga
Day 5 Summary – A Section
Day 5 Results – B Section