SA U18 men blow half-time lead

2008-08-13 00:00

AFTER Tuesday’s 1-1 draw, the SA fans were quietly confident when the home country went into the break with a 2-1 lead in yesterday afternoon’s second U18 boys’ hockey Test at Maritzburg College.

However, satisfaction was shortlived as coach Barry Reid’s young Aussies came out with a vengeance in the second half and attacked SA’s weak points in defence to come away with a deserved 4-2 victory.

The result leaves SA coach Brendon Carolan’s line-up with a mountain of work to do in the 3 pm third clash today if they hope to keep this four-Test series alive.

Australia’s stars were the exceptionally talented Andrew Newman and captain Jacob Whetton, who ensured the home defence was pulled to pieces after the break. At times, it seemed strong defender Matt McGillivray was the lone ranger in support of pressured SA goalkeeper Thuthuka Goba as the boys from Down Under penetrated the danger zone almost at will.

The first half was a different story with SA strikers Marc le Sueur and Dean Symons receiving plentiful ball to test busy Aussie keeper Nicholas Gabriel. In the eighth minute, Gabriel blocked Le Sueur’s shot, but SA captain David Zwemke reacted quickly to volley the rebound high into the net.

Australia came back five minutes later when prolific sharpshooter Jeremy Edwards made SA pay for loose marking.

A Goba glove save from a penalty corner a little after was soon translated into success at the other end, when Greg Last’s pinpoint free-hit from outside the Oz circle saw team-mate Dimitri Ratnayake convert a stunning deflection goal.

Apart from opportunities created, one mark of SA dominance in the first stanza was a 2-1 penalty corner count, while Oz came out in the end with a 4-2 margin in this aspect of the game by the time umpires Sean Rapaport and AJ Spieringshoek called time.

After the changeover, shocking SA passing enabled Oz to counter at pace, and the inspirational Whetton capitalised on defenders’ ball watching to set up a diving Edwards for the equaliser.

Australia went ahead for the first time in the 58th minute when they slipped their fourth PC left of the castle and Brodie Sarrie flashed his flick into the roof of the net. More SA fiddling at the back gave Oz a winning two-goal cushion after the brilliant Newman slipped through a perfectly weighted pass for Sarrie to finish off in fine style.

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