A treat for record crowd at Randburg Hockey Stadium as SA beat Malaysia 3-1 in fourth and final Test

2013-06-12 00:00

SOUTH African hockey witnessed arguably its biggest-ever crowd at Randburg Hockey Stadium yesterday night and the fans weren’t disappointed when the lads in green and gold beat Malaysia 3-1 in the fourth and final Test after leading 1-0 at half-time, a result that leaves SA 3-0 series winners.

SA won the first Test 2-1 and the second Test 3-1 while the third Test was a 4-4 draw.

SA opened the scoring thanks to Wade Paton’s 15th-minute penalty stroke after Clint Panther was upended in the strike zone.

Both sides had great chances during the match, but a combination of superb goalkeeping and defending kept the scoreboard quiet.

Turnovers came and went as the game became looser, but the crowd erupted in the 55th minute when SA conjured up a slide-rule move down the right for Pierre de Voux to smash the ball past goalkeeper Kairulnizam Ibrahim (2-0).

Malaysia hit back in the 57th when Chua Boon Huat set up Ahmad Tajudin Tengku’s magnificent reverse-stick blast that ripped into the net (2-1).

Malaysia won their first PC on the hour mark, but outstanding ’keeper Rassie Pieterse saved superbly before SA broke out fast for De Voux to get in a shot that was blocked, while Firhan Asaari came agonisingly close at the other end soon after. With three minutes left, Rhett Halkett steered two Malaysian penalty corners off the goalline with remarkable skill.

And to rub salt into the wounds, SA broke away with Jonty Robinson at first, then De Voux and Miguel da Graca combining, before Julian Hykes made it 3-1 with a quick-fire shot that cracked into the backboard.

The teams meet again in Pool B at the World League semi-finals in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, on June 30 and South Africa will go in with the psychological advantage.

Mugg & Bean Player of the Series was SA captain Austin Smith.

In the second minute, Miguel da Graca and Frankie Pretorius combined and Clint Panther came close to scoring, but won a penalty corner. The SA variation was a superb innovation and ’keeper Kairulnizam Ibrahim did well to save.

Pierre de Voux forced another PC and Ibrahim brought off a superlative stick save from an Austin Smith drag-flick rocket.

Controlling possession and being patient had Malaysia on the back foot as SA moved left and right with great ball speed. Both sides were probing with quick exchanges of passes and with SA down to 10 men after a green card, Nabil Fiqri got in a snap-shot that Pieterse palmed away. There was huge disappointment at the other end when Panther scored, but the whistle had gone for a deliberate stick check and Wade Paton buried the penalty stroke for 1-0 after 15 minutes, SA scoring the first goal of the match for the first time in the series.

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