SA men’s hockey bring high-quality action to first Test against Austria

2015-01-06 00:00

THE first Test between a new-look South Africa men’s hockey team and Austria got off to a perfect start at Queensmead in Durban yesterday evening and a 1-1 draw in this exciting encounter has set up the remaining three Tests during the week to bring further high-quality action.

SA dominated the majority of the game and Durban’s Dan Sibbald got the green and gold in front with a sizzling back-stick shot from the top of the strike zone in the 40th minute after the initial assist from debutant Mondli Dlamini.

The Europeans finished strongly and highly experienced Michael Koerter found the equaliser in the 53rd via a penalty corner drag flick.

There was much to enthuse during this high-energy encounter and it was heart-warming to see the slew of SA debutants looking at home in the cut-and-thrust of world-level hockey.

Ross Hetem of Durban had an early chance while Dlamini set up a penalty corner with fellow debutant Andrew Manson in the second quarter that saw drag-flick ace Matt Guise-Brown’s bullet well-saved by ’keeper Mateusz Szymcyk.

There was a torrid battle in the engine room, and here the SA captain Jonty Robinson and centre back Jethro Eustice — two of SA’s most experienced players — were invaluable in providing direction and cohesion to the playing pattern.

It was five minutes toward the end of the third quarter when Dlamini on the right fed Sibbald, who flipped the ball over a defender’s stick, before rifling a reverse-stick blast past that rattled the backboard past replacement ’keeper Michael Maentler (1-0).

As the final quarter of the modern 15-minute chukkas of four began, yet another Durbanite, Mohammed Mea, slipped a through-ball to Southern Gauteng’s Brandon Panther whose rocket shot led to a second SA penalty corner, but successive efforts from the set-piece came to nought, the latter strike flying on the wrong side of the crossbar.

As the vocal crowd sensed an SA victory, Koerter silenced the thought with a penalty corner equaliser seven minutes from time, and two more late chances were foiled by the green and gold defence, the last bringing out a fine diving save from ’keeper Gowan Jones in a one-on-one with Koerter.


(all at Queensmead)

Today: second Test (6 pm).

Thursday: third Test (6 pm).

Friday: fourth Test (2 pm).

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