Hockey greats spice up tourney

THE cream of South Africa's hockey talent will be on display at the Spar Women's Inter-provincial Hockey Tournament in Pretoria from Monday to Saturday next week (August 24 to 29), and the return to action of some of South Africa's greatest players could add some extra spice to what is expected to be a particularly hard-fought battle for top honours.

THE cream of South Africa's hockey talent will be on display at the Spar Women's Inter-provincial Hockey Tournament in Pretoria from Monday to Saturday next week (August 24 to 29), and the return to action of some of South Africa's greatest players could add some extra spice to what is expected to be a particularly hard-fought battle for top honours.

Several former members of the national team, including defender Fiona Butler and the great Pietie Coetzee, who was regarded as one of the best strikers in the world, will be turning out for Southern Gauteng. Western Province captain Kate Woods says this could make them formidable opponents.

"Southern Gauteng are always a tough team to beat, and the return of some of these players is going to make them even tougher," Woods said. She said the new format of the tournament, in which the teams in the A section are divided into two pools, would make it hard for Western Province to defend their national title.

"We are in a pool with KZN Coastals, Northerns and Witwatersrand, which means that every match we play is going to be hard, before we even get to the semifinal stage," she said.

"Natal are pretty good, with players like Kelly Madsen; Northerns are always very competitive and Southern Gauteng are so good that Wits, who are their B-team, are also very good," she said.

"But (if) all your matches (are) tough ones (it) prepares you throughout the week. It's better than playing some easy games during the week, and then having your first tough one in the final."

She said Western Province had some injury problems, with three Proteas - Kathleen Taylor, Tarryn Bright and Lenise Marais - out of action.

Pool A of the A section comprises Western Province, KwaZulu-Natal Coastals, Northerns and Witwatersrand, while Pool B is made up of Southern Gauteng, North West, WP Peninsula and KZN Inland. Matches will be played at the Tuks sports grounds and at the Tshwane University of Technology. - Sapa

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