SA men's hockey team makes first Commonwealth semi-final since 2002: 'It's a proud moment'

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  • The SA men's hockey side reached the Commonwealth Games semi-finals after a 4-3 win over New Zealand.
  • It's their first Commonwealth Games semi-finals since the Manchester Games in 2002.
  • The SA men will face India in the last-four on Saturday, while Australia will face England.

It's a huge moment for hockey in South Africa as the men's side sealed their spot in the Commonwealth Games semi-finals in Birmingham.

Needing a victory to progress out of the knockout stages against 2018 silver medallists New Zealand, South Africa put up a fight at the University of Birmingham centre.

The match was all tied at 3-3 in the final quarter, but Connor Beauchamp's penalty corner secured South Africa the emphatic win on Thursday.

Matthew Guise-Brown scored a brace with Keenan Horne and Beauchamp slotting goals to steer South Africa to a 4-3 win against the formidable Kiwis.

South Africa captain Tim Drummond could not be prouder of his team as they made their way to a long-awaited semi-final playoff this weekend.

"It's a huge moment for us. One of the goals was to get out of the pool and we've done that. It's a proud moment for the whole team and just excited about it," Drummond said after the game.

"It's pure fight and adrenaline, you're doing it for each other and for people back home. It gives you the energy to keep going. It means a lot and if you're playing for something bigger than yourself, you just go for it."

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South Africa made their first Commonwealth semi-final since the 2002 Manchester Games (when they lost to eventual champions Australia) as they finished second in Group A in Birmingham.

They drew 2-2 against Pakistan in their first encounter, defeated Scotland 5-4 and lost to Australia 3-0 before sealing the New Zealand win.

"It means a lot, we've come so far as a group in two years and have gone through some tough times together," Drummond added.

"It's moments like these that we play for and makes those tough times more rewarding to get a performance like this."

Coach Gareth Ewing hailed his side for their fight against the world number eight New Zealand as South Africa now compete against third-ranked India in the semi-finals.

"We started quite well in all of our games, so it was nice to get that on the board. Thinking it put them (New Zealand) on the back foot, really excited to see that and it's a pity we couldn't capitalise on the opportunities we created up to half-time. But we held on," said Ewing.

"[I'm] Really proud of them, we fought hard and played a good game. We probably let them in a little bit, but they're a really experienced side, so it was a brilliant result," Ewing added.

"It's taken us into the knockout stages, which is big for us and it's exciting."

Ewing says their progress to the semi-finals is vital ahead of January's 2023 Hockey World Cup in India.

"From a rankings point of view, it's really brilliant. I'm proud of the guys and it's part of the journey that we're on, building to big events coming up next year, so I'm really proud."

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