Hockey: thrilling finale to a high-class series

2011-08-09 00:00

THE fourth and final match in EagleTurf All Star Series II featuring the top 32 men’s hockey players in South Africa went the way of the Brothers Sport Braves, writes JOHN COOK.

Braves were victorious by a 3-2 scoreline at Krugersdorp High School last evening, but opponents the iTrainer Warriors had the last say by winning the penalty shootout 5-4 to clinch the series.

The 2-2 series outcome — after the Warriors’ 5-2 wins at Cornwall Hill College in Centurion last Thursday and Sunday’s 3-0 shutout — to the Braves’ 3-2 Friday night victory in the second encounter and yesterday’s 3-2 win meant the series was decided on a penalty shootout, which the Warriors won 5-4 in a thrilling finish to a high-class series.

The Warriors led 2-1 at half-time, but the Braves opened the scoring when Julian Hykes of Border’s pinpoint cross was deflected in by Southern Gauteng captain Miguel da Graca.

The Warriors equalised in the 20th minute through a powerful shot from Southern Gauteng forward Owen Mvimbi before provincial and All Star Series team-mate Ricky West took the Warriors into a half-time lead with a textbook penalty corner drag-flick.

However, the Braves weren’t done yet and after the changeover Western Province and SA captain Austin Smith rifled in a penalty corner after the pass went left of the castle to equalise, before team-mate Da Graca netted the winner with a penalty corner drag-flick that bulged the net.

But the Warriors had the last say in the penalty shootout.

Eagle Turf All Star Series I in Durban a month ago went to the Braves.

The 32 players are competing in front of the national selection panel for places in South Africa’s 18-man team for the Africa Cup of Nations. The Africa Cup, from September 1 to 10 in Bulawayo, is the continent’s qualifier competition for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

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