Intense fight as SA goes down to Ozzies

2014-03-18 00:00

THREE goals in the last five minutes of the first half set up world number one Australia for a 7-0 win against the world’s 12th-ranked South Africa men’s hockey team at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup yesterday, after the World Cup and Commonwealth Games champions led 3-0 at half-time.

“In the first 30 minutes we were defensively compact, stayed in the game, but when we caught them on the break we didn’t get the penalty corners or good enough goal shots,” said SA head coach Fabian Gregory. “The small things have such a big impact; we won the ball but didn’t play it into the right channels.”

SA successfully defended five Australian penalty corners in the first half, with goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse and several defenders prominent.

Brandon Panther and his younger brother Clinton, as well as Lungile Tsolekile, Pierre de Voux and Julian Hykes, got SA into good positions for no reward, and legendary head coach Ric Charlesworth’s Aussie side were not to be denied when, on the 30-minute mark, Trent Mitton opened the scoring from close, before superstar Jamie Dwyer made it 2-0 in the 33rd with a sublime strike.

A sixth Aussie PC in the last minute of the half (35th) saw Nicholas Budgeon go low to Pieterse’s left and the Australians’ three-strike in five minutes saw SA trailing 3-0 at the change over.

SA replaced Pieterse with Jacques le Roux, and a minute into the restart Jonty Robinson cleared away from the goal line before the South Africans survived a goal-mouth scramble.

Seven minutes into the half, Clint Panther’s determination won SA’s first PC and Jethro Eustice’s disguised pass just missed a flying Robinson’s outstretched stick for what would surely have been a goal. But Dwyer swept in Rob Hammond’s pass in the 46th and at 4-0 Australia had the game in the bag.

Brandon Panther was in the mix in the strike zone but Chris Ciriello made it 5-0 from Australia’s ninth PC in the 52nd minute. With 16 minutes left (54th), Aussie Daniel Beale scored a wonder goal from nothing, and from the breakaway SA captain Wade Paton brought out an equally wondrous save from keeper Andrew Charter, after good combination play with De Voux down the right.

A second PC for SA, won by Ignatuis Malgraff, came and went before Taylor Dart had to be helped off after a blow to the head. In the 63rd, captain Mark Knowles followed up to extend the Aussies’ lead to 7-0 before Malgraff was close at the other end.

“In vital phases we didn’t control the ball,” said Gregory. “If you make mistakes against the world’s best you get punished, but we are making progress. The level of intensity we showed was pleasing and I was impressed with the guys’ attitude.

“Some of our young players impressed. We have a few more months before the World Cup so it’s interesting to test players against the degree of pressure the world’s number one side brings. There are also a number of players not here who will come into the reckoning as we go forward.”

Going into the match, SA had lost 3-2 to Malaysia and 5-0 to China, while the Aussies had beaten China 7-0 and Canada 6-0.

SA meet Canada at 12.05 pm (SA time) tomorrow, in a match to be televised live on SuperSport. The following matches will also be live on SuperSport: SA vs South Korea on Saturday at 2 pm SA time, as well as all of Sunday’s play-off matches.


Australia (3) 7 (Trent Mitton 30th minute, Jamie Dwyer 33rd, 46th, Nicholas Budgeon 35th, Chris Ciriello 52nd, Daniel Beale 54th, Mark Knowles 63rd)

South Africa 0.

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