SA IPT Singles shaping up for nail-biting finish

The Western Province expects Central Gauteng to come at them strongly after this morning’s fourth round foursomes went the way of the young upstarts who are chasing their first South African Inter-Provincial title since 2006.

“They are extremely hungry and you could see the desire to win in the way they played this morning,” said Western Province captain Werner Theart. “We are going to have to come at them strong and hard in the singles if we want to keep our title defence alive.”

Rookies Michael Dixon and Callum Mowat got the first point on the board for Central, after Damian Naicker and Muzi Nethunzwi bowed out to Delin Erasmus and SP Strydom 3&2.

Mowat and Dixon beat Dylan Raubenheimer and Theart 3&2, followed by Ruan de Smidt and Daniel Hammond who downed Lean Boezaart and MG Keyser by the same margin.

Haydn Porteous and Graham van der Merwe sewed up a 3-1 lead for Central, beating LeRiche Ehlers and Justin Turner 2&1.

“It’s nice to go into the singles with this kind of lead,” said Porteous. “In match play, anything can happen and Province won’t give up easily, so this is a nice cushion to have.”

Southern Cape certainly set the cat among the pigeons with a major upset in the morning foursomes, with only Gauteng North number one Brandon Stone and his partner Conway Kunneke able to take a point off the Southern Cape side.

The Southern Cape team has had a real beating in this year’s IPT. In the first round, KwaZulu-Natal beat them 8-4, on Tuesday they lost to Central Gauteng 9½ – 2½ and yesterday they were trashed by Western Province 11-1.

After three successive losses, Southern Cape seems to have found the form to give the tournament favourites a real scare.

“We knew the chips were down after three losses, so we have nothing to lose today,” said team manager Reinard Killian. “Today we are playing for pride and who knows, we might just pull off a victory. It would certainly cause a stir to the current log.”

Boland also battled valiantly, but Kwazulu-Natal had the upperhand from the first game and piled on the pressure for a 4-0 clean sweep.

Elton James and Chris van der Merwe handed Mark Mahoney and Karl Osche a 7&5 drumming, Gavin Sole and Ryan de Beer beat Anton Oosthuizen and Phillip Spies 2&1 and Gideon Pienaar and Steven van Heerden tidied up 2&1 to win the third game against Armandt Scholtz and Drikus Bruyns. Michael Hollick and Jared Harvey completed the whitewash with a 2-up win over Francois Haughton and Nathan Scott.

“They foiled our chances and we are really up against it now,” said team manager Servaas de Kock. “We are going to have to win all our singles to stay in this competition. You could say it is do or die time now.”

In the B-Section, Mpumalanga regained their fighting spirit after two losses on Wednesday.

They lead Limpopo 3-1 and have a 4-0 edge over Border, who also trail Limpopo 3-1.

“The whole team performed well this morning,” said Mpumalanga manager Barrie Kok. “We won two matches on Tuesday and then went down in both our matches yesterday. I think that was a bit of a wake-up call for the boys because they came into this morning with real commitment.

“I need the same from everyone this afternoon, because this is where it really starts to count.”

With two losses and two victories in the competition, Ekurhuleni also stayed afloat by pulling three and a half points ahead of North West.

Manager Kobie Koen said the games were tighter than the scores indicate, but he was delighted with how his charges held it together.

“In match play, you just never know, but it often comes down to determination and grit,” he said. “The team showed plenty of that this morning.”

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