PORT ELIZABETH (20 September 2012) – The Western Province and Central Gauteng will face off in Friday’s final round of the South African Inter-Provincial what promises to be an epic battle for supremacy but, while the big dogs fight about the bone, Boland could sneak in the back door.
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Central Gauteng moved to the top of the log six points with after drilling Gauteng North 8½ – 3½ at Port Elizabeth Golf Club on Thursday.
The defending champions share the lead with Province side, who drummed KwaZulu-Natal 8-4 but has a slender half point edge with 29.5 games.
But, while the defending champions and last year’s runners-up go head-to-head, they can’t afford to take their eyes off Boland, who snuck to six points and 26.5 games after beating Limpopo 7-5.
“If the match between Province and Central ends in a draw and we beat KwaZulu-Natal with a half decent score, we can still take the title,” said Boland manager Servaas de Kock.
“That’s what happened last year’s final round. Central and Gauteng North were going guns blazing, and Province snuck in to finish second. It’s going to be very tight between those two, but we can’t take worry about them. If we take our eye off the ball, KwaZulu-Natal could spoil our chances.”
Gauteng Central manager Jock Wellington agrees.
“At this level, every match is a fight to the end and there’s no doubt that we are in for a tough match tomorrow. But each guy on the team knows what he has to do. The boys didn’t come here to get a hair-cut; they came to win and they will bring everything to the party.”
Werner Theart, who captained the Province side to second in Bloemfontein last year, shares Wellington’s sentiments.
“We won’t get complacent and we won’t underestimate Central, just because they are a young side. We have seen what this team can do and they will step it up another gear in the final round.
“But I have a lot of confidence in my team. They are a gritty bunch of players. We had a rough start to the week and they stepped it up every day and here we are, ready to go another round.”
Meanwhile the B-Section promotion hunt is nearly a foregone conclusion.
Twelve months after they were sent back to the B-Section, Southern Cape executed a well-laid plan with five successive victories for 10 points and an almost unassailable lead with 42.5 games.
Despite a valiant effort from the Eastern Province, who handed Border an 8½ – 3½ drumming and scored a 6½ – 5½ win over Mpumalanga, the host side still trails by two points.
And, even if the log leaders lose to Ekurhuleni on Friday, EP team manager Richard Hargreaves says it’s a mathematical improbability to make up the games count to edge out Southern Cape.
“Southern Cape only needs to rock up and win by a couple of games to secure their promotion,” said Hargreaves. “We only trail them by two points, but we are nine games down to them. So the odds are so heavily stacked in their favour, that they would have to lose 12-0 and we would have to beat North West by at least 10-2 to win.
“The bottom line is that we shot ourselves in the foot with our foursomes pairings against Southern Cape. It’s a tough reality. They say no-one remembers who finishes second, but we will nevertheless turn up and produce our best golf to clinch that runner-up spot.”
But Southern Cape manager John Mitchell refused to get carried away.
“Look, I know on paper we’ve won, but I’d rather get our final match out of the way,” he warned. “We we’ll come out, we’ll play hard and once we’ve won, we will celebrate hard. But not before the final putt drops.”
FINAL ROUND DRAW
KwaZulu-Natal v Boland
Gauteng North v Limpopo
Central Gauteng v Western Province
Southern Cape v Ekurhuleni
Mpumalanga v Free State
Eastern Province v North West
Bye – Border
ROUND FOUR RESULTS
Central Gauteng beat Gauteng North 8½ – 3½
Boland beat Limpopo All Square 7 – 5
Western Province beat KwaZulu-Natal 8 – 4
Eastern Province beat Mpumalanga 6½ – 5½
Eastern Province beat Border 8½ – 3½
North West beat Free State & Northern Cape 8½ – 3½
Mpumalanga beat Border 6½ – 5½
1 Central Gauteng (4, 3, 0, 1, 6.0, 29.5)
2 Western Province (4, 3, 0, 1, 6.0, 29.0)
3 Boland (4, 3, 0, 1, 6.0, 26.5)
4 Gauteng North (4, 1, 1, 2, 3.0, 21.5)
5 KwaZulu-Natal (4, 1, 1, 2, 3.0, 20.0)
6 Limpopo (4, 0, 0, 4, 0.0, 17.5)
1 Southern Cape (5, 5, 0, 0, 10, 42.5)
2 Eastern Province (5, 4, 0, 1, 8, 33.5)
3 Ekurhuleni (5, 3, 0, 2, 6.0, 32.0)
4 Mpumalanga (5, 3, 0, 2, 6, 31.0)
5 North West Province (5, 2, 0, 3, 4, 32.5)
6 Free State & Northern Cape (5, 1, 0, 4, 2.0, 23.5)
7 Border (6, 0, 0, 6, 0, 21)