JOHANNESBURG Aug 22 Sapa
SOUTHERNS REMAIN UNBEATEN, WESTERN PROVINCE SLIP
Fresh off the back of a 15-0 demolition of KZN Inland on Tuesday, tournament favourites South Gauteng (Southerns) ran out 6-1 winners against Eastern Province on the fourth day of the women's Interprovincial Hockey Tournament (IPT) in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
Southerns took the lead in the eighth minute through Louis Coertzen, who scored from a penalty corner (PC), before captain Pietie Coetzee doubled the lead two minutes later off her side's second PC.
The Gauteng side added their third 90 seconds later, before rounding off a dominant half with a fourth goal, courtesy of Robyn Johnson.
Having done the hard work in the first period, Southerns added a single goal in the second half, with Catherine McNulty getting a touch to a long ball into the area, to send the ball rocketing into the net past helpless EP goalkeeper Michelle Cremer.
EP were rewarded five minutes from time after a passage of solid work and scored a consolation PC through Kimm Cairncross.
Southerns had the last say of the game as Coertzen scored her second of the match after a pass from Coetzee, in the area.
The win keeps Southerns in pole position after four rounds and they remain unbeaten, with 12 points from their four matches, while Eastern Province suffered a blow to their title chances, occupying fourth place in pool B, level on six points with Free State but ahead on goal difference.
In the day's other results, the South African under-21 side were held to a surprise 1-1 draw by Amathole, who earned their first point of the tournament after three successive losses.
Despite the draw, SA under-21 remain top of pool A and will need to navigate their way through their final pool fixture on Thursday against Wits.
Defending champions Western Province were held to a second successive 1-1 draw as North West showed great touches to frustrate the Cape side.
WP ended the day third in pool A, a point behind the Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN) Raiders, two points off leaders SA under-21 and struggling to hold on for a semi-final place.
Meanwhile, the Raiders took full advantage of WP's draw, as they beat Wits University 5-1 after leading by a single goal at the break, launching themselves above WP on the penultimate day of pool fixtures.
Raiders' victory sees them move into second place in pool A, but they are likely to need a win against WP on Thursday to see them safely into the semi-final stages.
Pool B's action got underway early in the day with North Gauteng (Northerns) being pushed all the way by the KZN Mynahs, who made life difficult for the title contenders but they were eventually disappointed to lose out 1-0 after one of the matches of the morning.
Free State benefited from a successful day on Tuesday to record a second win in a row against KZN Inland, with the match ending 6-0 in a one-sided affair.
Free State have ensured they remain in the hunt for a high finish come Saturday, when the final placings will be determined by classification fixtures, with six points from four matches, while Inland remain winless and without a point after four rounds, rooted to the bottom of pool B.