originally published on the 18/04/2016 on the Canoeing South Africa website.
The 2016 South African Canoe Polo Championships dished up some enthralling excitement at Shongweni Dam over the weekend as the less-fancied KwaZulu-Natal team were too strong for Gauteng in the senior men’s final whilst the KZN ladies made it a double with victory over the Gauteng ladies in a one-sided affair.
The KZN men’s side had lost to Gauteng in their first game in the round robin stages however had fought back to claim a 4-4 draw in their second encounter of the day, setting up the final between the two sides after KZN had beaten Western Province 8-4 and 8-0 previously.
The final was a ding-dong battle with both outfits eager to gain the ascendancy and, ultimately, the national crown. It was, however, the underdogs, KZN who kept their cool and fought off their more fancied opponents to claim a 6-2 victory in a well-contested final.
Gauteng had earlier dismantled Western Province 11-2 and 13-1 in the round robin pool stage, putting them in the pound seats heading into the final.
It was the hosts who managed an unlikely victory though to claim their second national canoe polo title in three years after Gauteng stole the title from them in 2015.
In the ladies division the contest throughout did not represent the same see-saw battle that the men’s did, the KZN Women’s team proving too strong for the rest of the provinces and went through the entire tournament conceding just nine goals while they sent the ball into the back of the net close on 40 times.
KZN Women’s final saw them clash with their toughest opponents, the Gauteng U21 Women’s team, however the game was relatively one-sided as the KZN ladies ran out 5-1 victors, claiming the well-deserved spoils and repeating their victory of 2014 in the process.