SAINTS took a decisive step towards retaining the Bank Windhoek Field Hockey Men's Premier League title with a last-gasp 2-1 victory against their closest rivals, DTS on Wednesday night.
With 40 seconds to go, Saints won a penalty for illegal play and Cody van der Merwe sent DTS keeper DJ Strauss the wrong way to clinch a dramatic victory.
The result sees Saints stretching their lead over DTS to five points, and with both teams only having three matches remaining, it is now highly unlikely that Saints will still be caught.
In a close encounter between two evenly-matched sides, DTS took an early lead when their young striker JP Britz's prolific goal scoring form continued with a great back stick goal after a through-ball from Edward Reed.
Reed continued to torment Saints' defence with some incisive attacks in the early stages, but after withstanding the early pressure, Saints equalised when Cody van der Merwe scored from a short corner.
Percy Barthram came close for DTS when he hit the crossbar early in the second chukka, but Saints started attacking more with Van der Merwe and Dakota Hansen prominent, while Hatton narrowly missed the target after a cross by Van der Merwe.
The match became a bit heated in the third chukka when DTS' Lenard Fick and Jason Bolton, and Saints' Craig Bassingthwaighte were all sin-binned for foul play, while the match opened up with counter-attacks from both sides.
A Hatton counter-attack set Josh van der Merwe clear on goal, but DTS keeper Strauss rushed off his line to clear the danger.
There was drama at the other end when Ivan Semedo launched a counter-attack and found Jason Bolton unmarked in the circle, but his shot was partially saved by Richter van Rooyen and dribbled dangerously close to the line before being cleared.
Saints raised the tempo in the final chukka, but Strauss kept DTS in the game with some fine saves.
He first pulled off a point-blank save from Fagan Hansen at the start of the fourth chukka and then saved from two successive short corners.
In the final stages Semedo launched an attack for DTS, but it was cleared and a long pass by Damien Schutz found Cody van der Merwe clear on goal.
With Strauss rushing onto him, he managed to get a pass in to Hatton, but his shot was illegally cleared off the line by a DTS defender.
The referee pointed to the spot and Van der Merwe stepped up to put the ball into the net and seal a dramatic victory for Saints.
This weekend Saints and DTS will both be aiming for maximum points when they take on the struggling X Team from the coast, who have lost all their matches so far.
The Women's Premier League title race is much more clear-cut, with Saints a hair's breadth away from retaining the title.
They comfortably beat DTS 5-1 on Wednesday night and are now way ahead the rest of the field at the top of the log and just one win away from winning the title.
On Wednesday, Saints took a while to break down DTS's defence, and DTS actually opened the scoring when Wendy Lee Milne scored from a field goal to give them a 1-0 lead at half time.
Saints, however, drew level with a short corner goal by Azaylee Philander, and then finally overpowered DTS with four more goals in the final chukka to secure a bonus-point victory. Philander completed her brace, while Gina Olles, Cele Wessels and Danja Meyer scored the others.