SA Hockey Men hold firm against stubborn USA

Keenan Horne (Gallo Images)
Keenan Horne (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - The South African Hockey Men beat the USA 2-1 at Ashton College in Ballito on Sunday afternoon to take a 2-0 series lead.

The African champions went into the contests on the back of Saturday's 4-2 victory.

The South Africans started well creating regular opportunities but the likes of Dayaan Cassiem, Nic Spooner, Tevin Kok and Bili Ntuli were all denied by poor finishing, good goalkeeping or a combination of both.

The South Africans were, however, fully in control of the game much to the partisan crowd's pleasure.

That pressure finally told, and the hosts got the deserved lead through Taine Paton, playing in his 113th Test for his country, who took advantage of wonderful forward defensive work by his team-mates and emerged into the D with a superb diving finish.

It was the goal the South Africans deserved and although USA had made them work for it, the score was a reflection of how proceedings had gone.

There were a couple of penalty corners kept out before the half-time break but at 1-0 up coach Garreth Ewing would have been both happy and frustrated with the lack of killer instinct.

His team emerged in the second half with even more intensity than in the first and they should have gone 2-0 up sooner than when skipper Keenan Horne finished off his opportunity after good work around the D.

Once again though the South Africans allowed the Americans back into the game with two green cards and USA finally converted a third PC attempt through Aki Kaeppeler.

With the score back at 2-1 the South Africans showed no signs of panic and started playing the game more and more in the USA half.

They should have added to the tally with some great opportunities in the final 10 minutes, but with the penalty corners not working on the day and some good opportunities squandered they had to settle for a 2-1 win.

The third Test takes place at the same venue at 17:00 on Tuesday before the series is wrapped up on Wednesday morning.

For the South Africans the attention will then turn to the sixth-ranked Germans who will take them on in four Tests in Johannesburg.

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