SA hockey juniors do down
SA Hockey Association (File)
Pretoria - The Australian Schoolboys hockey team beat South Africa U18 3-2 in the first of a three-match series after leading 2-1 at half-time at St Alban's College in Pretoria Wednesday night.
Australia dominated the first half and were rewarded with two goals from penalty corners. SA were pinned in their half and the Aussies robbed the home country of the ball in the second minute to set up their first PC, from which Shayne Smith snapped in the deflection (1-0).
After 14 minutes and a good period of SA play, outstanding Aussie midfielder Nick Hill broke away on a 30-metre run from which the second PC was earned, and James Knee volleyed in the rebound off Free State and SA goalkeeper Hendrik Kroukamp's pads (2-0).
SA won their first PC soon after, but it was very disappointing for the vociferous home crowd that their top two drag-flickers were off the field on the sub's bench at the time, a situation that could, but should never, happen with the five rolling substitutions allowed. Nevertheless, third-choice flicker and Western Province player Michael Mulder's effort deserved a goal.
On half-time SA finally put together a flowing move that was finished off by Amathole-Border's Cerezo Comerasamy after an assist by KZN Coastals captain Sumanth Sunkari (2-1).
Trailing 2-1 going into the second half against the world top men's hockey nation, the South Africans gained in confidence, but despite the efforts of outstanding keeper Kroukamp, who kept SA in the game, Australia went 3-1 up thanks to Jadium Rees's low corner flick.
SA captain and Western Province centre half Michael Watson rallied his troops and the home side had the best of the rest of the match as the Aussies became increasingly unsettled and incurred the umpires' wrath.
Amathole-Border striker Ignatius Malgraff and Eastern Province captain Chad Cairncross came close, but a superb ball from KZN Inland's Timothy Guise-Brown enabled Malgraff to smash into the net with seven minutes left (3-2).
SA strived mightily for the equaliser and though it was not to be, it was a heartening performance that will stand them in good stead ahead of Thursday and Friday's 7.30 pm Test matches at the same venue.