SA beat Scotland with inspired 2nd half

2014-07-26 00:00

CAPE TOWN — An inspired second half performance saw South Africa win their opening men’s hockey pool match 2-0 against Scotland at the Commonwealth Games yesterday.

And Rassie Pieterse, marking his 100th Test, will also have enjoyed keeping a clean sheet.

The last time South Africa and Scotland met was earlier in July in the Investec Cup in London when South Africa won the bronze medal 3-0. For the first half yesterday though it was the hosts who enjoyed the better chances. They thought they had gone 1-0 ahead in the 13th minute, although the scrambled goal was disallowed after South Africa reviewed it to the third umpire.

In that first half Scotland proved hard to break down as South Africa patiently tried to spread the ball wide and then attack down the flanks.

In the second half, however, the match took on a different complexion. The Scots weren’t helped when they received a yellow card in the 38th minute and while they were down to 10 men South Africa earned a penalty corner. From the attempt the ball was deemed to have struck a defender while goalbound and Andrew Cronje calmly stepped up to convert the penalty flick.

South Africa were looking the fitter, the more inventive and urgent, and coping with the 26ºC heat better than the hosts. The Scots earned their only penalty corner of the match in the 56th minute — South Africa had already tallied five of them but had squandered four — and only came back into the game in the last 10 minutes as the crowd tried to lift them.

However, any hopes of snatching a draw were dashed when Ignatius Malgraaff popped up late to seal the victory.

Their next match is one of the biggest challenges in the world game: Australia on Monday.

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