SA clinch series against Malaysia

2013-06-10 00:00

THE South Africa men’s hockey team came back from a 2-0 half-time deficit to draw 4-4 with Malaysia in the third Test at University of North West Hockey Centre in Potchefstroom yesterday and clin-ched the series 2-0 with one to play.

SA had won the first Test 2-1 and the second Test 3-1 at UNWHC, while Malaysia desperately needed a win to give themselves a chance of levelling the series in the fourth and final clash at 7 pm tomorrow at Randburg Hockey Stadium.

Julian Hykes made the all-important equaliser for 4-4 with just eight seconds left in the match.

SA’s penalty corners were poor — just one of the six brought success — while a host of great combination plays were undone in field play when the final pass went astray just metres from goal.

In the first half, Malaysia made the most of what came their way and went into the half-time break with a 2-0 lead.

Against the run of play Fitri Saari worked some magic up the left-hand baseline with exquisite stickwork to set up Izwan Firdaus for the opening goal in the 27th minute, Malaysia having scored first in all three Test matches.

Two minutes later Malaysia stole away again and Faiz Helmi conjured up a fine piece of skill to open the way for Chua Boon Huat to make it 2-0.

Razie Abdul Rahim went on an unchallenged solo run to smash the ball from the top of the strike zone into the net for 3-0 after 43 minutes. Two minutes later, in the 45th, SA midfielder Taine Paton showed presence of mind to catch the Malaysian defenders unawares and finished with a cracking shot into the backboard for 3-1.

However, SA continued to miss gilt-edged chances in the goal zone, but they got it right in the 59th minute when Matt Botha’s assist was buried by Pierre de Voux for 3-2. In the 63rd minute Smith sent a stunning drag-flick from SA’s sixth PC high into the net for 3-3 with seven minutes left. Two minutes later (65th) captain Shah-run Nabil dived for a fine deflection goal and Malaysia were 4-3 up.

Three minutes from full-time Smith made a courageous run-in from the left channel and Hykes’s reverse-stick snapshot cannoned into the near post and stayed out.

Then with eight seconds left in the game, Taine Paton made a courageous incursion from the same channel and got off a shot, which Hykes deflected into the net for a 4-4 draw and a series win for SA with one to play.

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