Central Gauteng and Western Province picked up their second victories for the week, but KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga stole the show with sizzling performance in the second round of the 57th SA Inter-Provincial at Bryanston Country Club on Tuesday.
Central Gauteng cemented their spot at the top of the A-Section log, but the host union only leads by 2.5 games point lead over Western Province, who scored a convincing 8 – 4 win over neighbours Gauteng North.
Western Province trailed Southern Cape 2.5 – 1.5 after the foursomes, but rallied in the singles to defeat the defending champions 6.5 – 5.5.
Meanwhile KwaZulu-Natal, coming off a first round loss, were in commanding form.
“We were shell-shocked after we lost to Southern Cape, but we regrouped last night and the boys came out fighting,” said captain Gavin Sole from Southbroom.
The veteran of more than 25 Inter-Provincials told his charges to throw down the gauntlet in the singles and it was only Nash de Klerk – the youngest player in this year’s field at 13 years and eight months – that survived the assault from the men in black.
Out first, Sole led the way with a 3 & 2 result against. Yurav Premlall. Gregory Mckay, Siyanda Mwandla, Derek Scullard, Clayton Mansfield, Matt Saulez and Malcolm Mitchell racked up points to hand Ekurhuleni a 9.5 – 2.5 drubbing.
De Klerk fended off a white wash with a 2 & 1 victory over Jason Broomhead.
“It was great effort from the whole team,” said Sole.
“We fought so hard at the Fish River Sun last year to get back in the A-Section and that’s why losing in the first round stung so much. I asked the guys to dig deep, because we have to win every match now to have half a chance of winning on Friday.
“Every player stood up to be counted. It definitely helped that we took the early lead in the foursomes, because it set a very positive mood for the singles. We are playing Western Province on Wednesday, always a tough side to beat, so we’ll need more of the same, but I have a lot of confidence in the lads. They are a great bunch of fighters.”
Like KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga was also on the back foot after losing to Free State and Eastern Province in the opening round, but they came out guns blazing to beat Boland and Limpopo 4-0 in both their foursomes.
“The mood in the camp is definitely upbeat,” said skipper Stephen Morrison after Mpumalanga beat Boland 7.5 – 4.5 and whipped Limpopo 10 – 2.
“It was definitely a make-or-break day for us after the two losses on Monday and with a third round bye, we had to break the losing streak. The whole team fired from the word go and taking 4 – 0 leads against both sides into the singles was huge for us.
“It just gives you that little breathing room, because match play is fickle. You never know when a guy is going hit a hot run, but even when Boland began firing in the singles, the guys stayed the course.
“North West and Free State are back tomorrow, so we’ll have to see how they go. We’ll enjoy our mid-week break, but we’re coming back strong in the fourth round.”
Mpumalanga rocketed to the top of the B-Section log with four points, but Boland beat Limpopo 8 – 4 to move to second and trail the log leaders by just half a games point.
Eastern Province is definitely still in the running after picking up their second win of the week with a 7 – 5 victory over neighbours Border. The Bay boys to move to third in the standings on four points and 19.5 games points.
North West in fourth and Free State in fifth both have four points in hand after a strong start, and the two sides will be looking to regain the lead in the battle for promotion on Wednesday. North West faces off against Eastern Province and Limpopo while Free State tackle Boland.
— Lali Stander (@LaliStander) September 19, 2017