SA men’s hockey team go down in fiery clash against Argentina

2013-12-16 00:00

THE South Africa men’s hockey team lost 3-2 to South American champions Argentina in an explosive third Test match at Queensmead in Durban on Saturday after the score was 1-1 at half-time.

The win gives world number 11 Argentina an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the five-Test series in KwaZulu-Natal, but the African champions made them work hard for their victory.

The clash was marred by a remarkable 10 players being sent to the sin bin — six Argentinians and four South Africans. Five players were banished to the bin in one particularly tempestuous 10-minute period during the second half.

Having lost the first Test 4-2 and the second Test 1-0, captain Rhett Halkett, head coach Charlie Pereira and the SA lads, ranked 12th in the world, were determined to pull one back and opened the scoring in the 20th minute through an Argentine own goal.

Captain Lucas Rey equalised from a penalty corner four minutes before half-time (31st minute) and his side went 2-1 up through a Facundo Callioni field goal 13 minutes from the end (57th) during a period when the musical chairs in the sin bin got particularly busy.

Five minutes later (62nd), Argentina established a two-goal cushion when Juan Ignacio Gilardi converted from the penalty spot. SA striker Craig Haley pulled one back after a penalty corner three minutes from full-time (67th) but the South Americans had done enough for a series-clinching 3-2 third Test win.

The SA side, missing regular captain Austin Smith and other starting line-up players in this series, might be 3-0 down with two to play, but Halkett has always said that the five Test matches were about improving game by game — and the general indications are that Pereira’s lads, a host of whom are untried at this level, appear to be doing just that.

The fourth Test is on the Queensmead Hockey Stadium turf at 3 pm today with the fifth and final Test match at the University of KZN Pietermaritzburg campus at 6.30 pm tomorrow.

UKZN Pietermaritzburg’s turf in the Peter Booysen Sports Park will be the third club venue to see a Test match for the first time, the others being Riverside hockey club in Durban North (first Test) and at Kearsney College hockey club (second Test) on the school campus in Hillcrest.

Meanwhile, in a rare coincidence, South Africa Under-21 played Argentina U21 in the play-off for 11th and 12th places at the Men’s Junior World Cup in Delhi at the same time as Saturday’s Queensmead clash, and once again it was success for the South Americans, to the tune of 4-1.

SA v Argentina Results:

1st Test: Argentina 4 South Africa 2

2nd Test: Argentina 1 South Africa 0

3rd Test: Argentina 3 South Africa 2.

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