KwaZulu-Natal shot to the top of the pile, Southern Cape got their title defence back on track and Eastern Province pushed to the front in the promotion battle in the 57th SA Inter-Provincial, sponsored by Tempest, on Wednesday.
Just a year after they won promotion, KwaZulu-Natal mowed down Western Province 9-3 to take the A-Section lead at Bryanston Country Club as Gauteng North moved off the bottom of the log after beating Ekurhuleni 8-4.
But it was giant-killer Martin Vorster who produced the biggest surprise of the day. The 15-year-old from Mossel Bay won the Nomads SA Boys U-15 earlier this year and made his debut in the premier IPT just a week after his first international victory in the Italian U-16 Championship.
Having beaten Siyanda Mwandla from KwaZulu-Natal 8 & 6 in round one, he downed Gerlou Roux, a former professional and two-time SA Mid-Amateur Stroke Play champion, 3 & 2 in the second.
On day three, the six-foot tall teenager holed a seven-foot clutch putt at 18 to beat Ryan Dreyer 1-up to guarantee a 7-5 victory for Southern Cape over Central Gauteng.
'That putt threw the A-Section wide open again,' said Southern Cape manager Billy Valentyn. 'The top four teams - KZN, Central, WP and Southern Cape - all have four points and the games point differences are marginal. Everyone has had a loss, so the next two days are do or die.
'We lost a match last year and still won, so there's no reason we can't do it again. After we lost to Province on Tuesday, I told the guys to take an hour to mope and then build a bridge and get over it.'
Southern Cape and Central Gauteng were 2-all heading into the singles.
Heinrich Frylinck took down skipper Darin de Smidt 5 & 4 to set the ball in motion for Southern Cape. Hans-Jurie Human defeated Hayden Griffiths 4 & 3 and stalwarts Ivan Williams and Henk Geldenhuys followed, both winning 3 & 1 to put Southern Cape on the front foot.
However, David McIntyre and Bryce Leach got Central Gauteng back in the fight.
McIntyre defeated Caylum Boon 4 & 3 and Bryce Leach beat Ben van Wyk 3 & 2. The local heroes got within a point of Southern Cape when Cameron Moralee downed Nicholas Mitchell 4 & 2.
With the score 6-5 in Southern Cape's favour, it came down to the last hole in the match between Vorster and Dreyer.
'Of course we was worried because Ryan is a former pro, a former Sanlam SA Match Play champion and a former SA Mid-Amateur champion,' said Valentyn, 'but Martin never backs down.
'He was 2-down through nine and 1-down through 13 and he just kept fighting. He birdied 15 and 16 and Ryan birdied 17, so they were all square heading down 18.
'His drive finished behind a tree on the left, but he took on the high risk shot and hit sand-wedge through the leaves. The ball landed six feet from the pin. Ryan hit his approach to eight feet, but he missed the birdie chance and Martin boxed his to win 1-up.
'On Thursday we start with a clean slate when we tackle Gauteng North. It's a must-win match for us as much as it is for them, so we expect a tough day. But with just two rounds, the guys will leave it all out on the fairways to keep us in the title hunt.'
Meanwhile Eastern Province did exactly what they set out to achieve before their fourth round bye.
'We lost to Free State in the first round, but we turned things around to beat Mpumalanga in the second,' said manager Karl du Preez.
'The guys knew the score. To have any chance of winning promotion, we had to beat North West and Limpopo today.'
Eastern Cape led Limpopo 3-1, but North West had the advantage in the foursomes until Andile Adam and Fezekile Kana won the last hole to level the score.
Captain Dillon Germshuys led the side into the singles. He defeated North West skipper Douglas McCabe 5 & 4 and rookie Sean Lottering, Kyle de Beer and Alan Lones piled on the points.
SA Country Districts veteran Rhalf Manuel guaranteed the 6.5-5.5 win when he halved with Christo Peens.
Manuel, Adam and Kana racked up three points against Limpopo and Germshuys, Lones, Kyle de Beer and Altin van der Merwe halved their games for a 9-3 result.
Eastern Province top the B-Section log with eight points, but North West beat Limpopo 8-4 to move to second. They have six points, and so has Free State, after beating Boland 7.5-4.5.
'We've given ourselves a chance, so will enjoy a well-deserved break,' said Du Preez. 'Free State play Border and Limpopo on Thursday and North West tackle Mpumalanga. We can't control what will happen in those matches, but we will be back guns blazing for our final match against Boland.'
Ekurhuleni 4.0 Gauteng North 8.0
KwaZulu-Natal 9.0 Western Province 3.0
Southern Cape 7.0 Central Gauteng 5.0
1 KwaZulu-Natal (3, 2, 0, 1, 4, 24)
2 Central Gauteng (3, 2, 0, 1, 4, 20.5)
3 Southern Cape (3, 2, 0, 1, 4, 19)
4 Western Province (3, 2, 0, 1, 4, 16)
5 Gauteng North (3, 1, 0, 2, 2, 17.5)
6 Ekurhuleni (3, 0, 0, 3, 0, 11)
Eastern Province 6.5 North West 5.5
Eastern Province 9.0 Limpopo 3.0
North West 8.0 Limpopo 4.0
Free State 7.5 Boland 4.5
1 Eastern Province (5, 4, 0, 1, 8, 35)
2 North West (4, 3, 0, 1, 6, 31)
3 Free State (3, 3, 0, 0, 6, 23)
4 Boland (5, 2, 0, 3, 4, 29.5)
5 Mpumalanga (4, 2, 0, 2, 4, 25.5)
6 Limpopo (4, 0, 0, 4, 0, 13)
7 Border (3, 0, 0, 3, 0, 11)