SA men in thrilling draw

Austin Smith (Gallo Images)
Austin Smith (Gallo Images)
London - The South African men's hockey team and Great Britain have played to a thrilling 2-2 (half-time 0-1) draw in their Olympic Games Pool A clash.

South Africa came from a goal down, took the lead and then saw it slip away as they went in search of a result to get their campaign back on track.

SA had a poor start to their bid for a top 10 finish as they went down to world No 1 Australia on Monday, while Great Britain entered the match fresh from a 4-1 win over Argentina.

A tentative start to the opening period saw both sides feeling each other out with most of the possession heading Britain's way.

Ashley Jackson opened the scoring for Great Britain 13 minutes into the clash, through a penalty corner (PC) which sailed past SA goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse and high into the net.

The South Africans enjoyed a better period after conceding the opener, with the majority of the possession heading the No 12 team's way, but they struggled to make the decisive pass in the final third, as opportunities went begging.

The South Africans were by no means out of the contest at the break and appeared more responsive in the opening minutes of the second half as they looked to improve on giving away unforced errors in the middle of the turf.

Pieterse enjoyed another superb outing as he made several saves to keep his side in the match, as Great Britain became increasingly frustrated.

With 44 minutes down, SA spent more time in their opponents’ area, but clear chances were hard to come by as the Great Britain defence held firm.

Their sustained pressure resulted in SA's first PC of the match with 11 minutes left on the clock.

Captain Austin Smith made no mistake as he scored SA's first goal of the Olympics from the PC.

Jonty Robinson made it 2-1 a short while later to put SA in the lead for the first time in the fixture.

His celebrations were short-lived, however, as GB equalised with three minutes to play.

A nervy end to the game concluded with a PC awarded to Great Britain in the last minute which Pieterse saved to end the match on level terms.

SA next face Spain on Friday, looking for more positive results as they attempt to finish off the bottom of the table.

Meanwhile, South Africa's new swimming sensation, Chad Le Clos, was back in the water on Wednesday, competing with his relay team-mate Darian Townsend in the Olympic 200m individual medley heat.

Le Clos touched in third place in 1:59.45, which was good enough for a spot in the semi-finals while Townsend missed the cut, with his seventh placed 2:00.67, in one of the slower heats.

Suzaan van Biljon finished fourth in her 200m breastroke heat, setting a personal best of two minutes, 25.89 seconds (2:25.89).

Her ninth place standing overall sees her through to the semi-final later in the evening.

Darren Murray came third in his 200m backstroke heat, in 2:00.01, but his overall placing was not good enough to make it through to the semis.

Both Van Biljon and Le Clos are in action again in the evening session where they compete in their respective semi-finals.

Meanwhile, the South African rowing duo of Naydene Smith and Lee-Ann Persse put in a strong effort to finish second in the women's pairs B final on Wednesday.

They crossed the line behind China's Yage Zhang and Yulan Gau.

Smith and Persse started well and led the race to the 1000m halfway mark but Zhang and Gau dug deep to come back strongly at the end.

Cyclist Ashleigh Moolman finished last out of 24 riders in the women's individual time trial event, in a time of 42:23.57.

Moolman finished nearly five minutes behind American rider Kristin Armstrong who won gold and defended her 2008 Beijing Olympic time trial title.

SA's beach volleyball team of Freedom Chiya and Grant Goldschmidt were beaten by the Polish pair of Mariusz Prudel and Grzegorz Fijalek, 21-19 and 21-13, in their final match, bringing an end to their Olympic campaign.

The South Africans lost both of their previous matches - also by two sets to nil - against the US and Latvia.

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