NELSPRUIT, 16 December 2016 – Gauteng North spoiled Central Gauteng’s party a tiny bit, but in the end the final round loss did nothing to dampen the excitement as the youthful side celebrated victory in the South African U-19 Inter-Provincial on Friday.
The 2016 champions were denied an unbeaten run in this year’s championship as a fiery Gauteng North showed up triumph 7.5 – 4.5 in the final round at White River Country Club.
“We started the final round with the victory in the bag, but we really wanted to end the week undefeated,” said Central Gauteng Andy Truluck.
“Unfortunately Gauteng North saved their best for last. Despite the final round loss, we achieved what we set out to accomplish and we did so in just three rounds. We kept the celebrations low key last night but tonight our players can really enjoy the fruits of their labour.
“This is an incredible achievement for the whole squad. They worked exceptionally hard for this and dug deep from the start to win this for Central Gauteng. We won four and drew one to seal the victory before the final round and that speaks volumes about the characters of the eight players on the team.”
Central Gauteng launched their bid with decisive victories in the first round when the side dished out an 8 – 4 drubbing to KwaZulu-Natal and defeated Southern Cape 7 – 5.
After a second round bye, the 2013.champions rallied to beat Free State 8 – 4 and held Western Province to a 6-all draw. An 8 – 4 result against Ekurhuleni in the fourth round pushed Central Gauteng to the top of the log with nine points.
“That meant KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng North, Southern Cape and Ekurhuleni were consigned to battle for positions in the final round,” stated Truluck. “It was a little strange to go into the final round as the champions, but the boys were still determined to do us proud.
“In retrospect, I think starting the final round with singles threw us a little. Our foursomes’ pairs have been so solid and strong all week and laid the foundation for our winning performance. Gauteng North proved the stronger side on the last day, though, and we salute them for a fantastic match.
“We don’t as a rule single out players, but I do want to applaud Keelan (van Wyk) on behalf of the whole team. He was a true inspiration as the captain and a superstar both on and off the course. Keelan led from the front and I am extremely proud of the way he guided the team. Keelan was in the winning team in 2013 and has played every year since. We are so pleased that he could finish his junior career was the winning captain.
“Emilio (Pera) started for a second year and he was a great support to Keelan and to the six rookies on the team, sharing his experience and offering support, so well done to you Emilio.
“I am at a loss for words to describe how proud I am of our newbies, who stepped up to the plate like real champions. They played with such determination and passion and their commitment to our end goal was unwavering.
“Finally, I want to thank our assistant manager Jaco (du Plessis) for his incredible contribution. Jaco does a lot behind the scenes and goes about it efficiently and without fuss. It is fantastic to share this victory with Jaco and the team.”
KwaZulu-Natal, Southern Cape and Gauteng North all finished on eight points, but KwaZulu-Natal, who beat Ekurhuleni 8 – 4, edged into the second spot with 42.5 games points. The defending champions defeated Western Province 8 – 4 to finish in third with 39.5 games points and Gauteng North’s final round victory netted them fourth on 38.5 games points.
Ekurhuleni took fifth ahead of Western Province, leaving Free State holding the wooden spoon.
Meanwhile Boland led Mpumalanga by a lone point in the B-Section standings as the two teams headed into the final round and Boland sealed the coveted promotion on 11 points to 10 when the two teams squared of 6-all.
A-SECTION Final Round Scores
Central Gauteng 4.5 vs Gauteng North 7.5
KwaZulu-Natal 8 vs Ekurhuleni 4
Southern Cape 8 vs Western Province 4
1 Central Gauteng (6, 4, 1, 1, 9, 41.5)
2 KwaZulu-Natal (6, 4, 0, 2, 8, 42.5)
3 Southern Cape (6, 4, 0, 2, 8, 39.5)
4 Gauteng North (6, 4, 0, 2, 8, 38.5)
5 Ekurhuleni (6, 3, 0, 3, 6, 35.5)
6 Western Province (6, 1, 1, 4, 3, 33)
7 Free State (6, 0, 0, 6, 0, 21.5)