SA men draw with Ireland in Chile

2007-12-19 00:00

THE South African men’s hockey team drew 1-1 with Ireland in their first match in the Four Nations tournaments in Santiago that also includes hosts Chile and Argentina.

Played in searing heat below the Andes mountains, South Africa began well and controlled possession for Austin Smith of Western Province to open the scoring in the 16th minute with a drag-flick that flashed high into the net. It came from SA’s second penalty corner after the first resulted in another PC being awarded following a second Irish infringement in the circle.

However, Ireland hit back two minutes later when a miss-trapped PC saw Phelie Maguire tidy up and find the South African net with a reverse stick shot that deflected off an SA defender’s stick into the net.

Turning around with the half-time score 1-1, SA again came out of the starting blocks quickly and dominated play with a spell of high-tempo hockey.

However, the unrelenting heat took its toll and it was rather surprisingly the Irish who finished the stronger side with SA defending resolutely to the final whistle.

It was certainly a better performance by coach Gregg Clark’s SA team, who were extremely disappointing in losing 4-1 to Chile in a pre-tournament warm-up match.

Fundamental errors in technique and unnecessary turnovers by SA gave the Chileans plenty of ammunition to launch attacking forays and it was from two such counter-attacks that the home side went into a 2-0 half-time lead.

It didn’t get much better after the changeover as Chile slammed in two penalty corners to a penalty stroke by SA’s Gareth Carr.

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