SA hockey men make heavy weather of win


Words: Jonathan Cook

It was their least impressive performance, but the South Africa men’s hockey team did enough to beat a spirited Switzerland 2-0 in the final Pool match of the Greenfields FIH World League Round 2 tournament at Hartleyvale in Cape Town Tuesday night.

SA captain n WP centre back Austin Smith full stretch tackle Swiss's Pascal Zimmermann.

Photo credit: ACTION PIX

A sizzling penalty corner strike by captain Austin Smith in the second minute and a quality field goal by Taine Paton four minutes after half-time (34th minute) ensured SA ended top of Pool A and booked a 6.30pm quarter-final date with Azerbaijan Thursday.

SA were increasingly better in first beating China and then Egypt over the weekend. The men in green and gold were disjointed for the most part against the Swiss and will be looking for far better in the Azerbaijan quarter-final Thursday.

After just 93 seconds in the match Julian Hykes fed Clint Panther who won a penalty corner. Paton injected from the baseline, Tim Drummond trapped the white nut at the top of the strike zone and Smith flashed his drag-flick into the net.

In the eighth minute Natius Malgraff set free a flying Shannon Boucher down the left wing and the striker was upended in the strike zone, earning SA another PC, but Matt Guise-Brown’s effort was superbly glove-saved by brilliant keeper Flavio Beuggert.

The keeper’s effort set the tone and he denied Smith at PC time on a number of occasions in the match, as well as Hykes and his fellow frontrunners from field play.

The Swiss had their chances, but SA keeper Rassie Pieterse was outstanding in stopping efforts from Jan Hodle and Florian Feller, while the Swiss suffered the frustration of seeing two PC efforts fly just wide of each post.

It certainly wasn’t pretty, but the men in green and gold can now look forward to the business end of the tournament, which starts Thursday. Friday afternoon features the semi-finals with the medal matches on Sunday afternoon.

Rassie Pieterse (GK), Dylan Swanepoel, Austin Smith (capt), Rhett Halkett, Matt Guise-Brown, Jet Eustice, Clint Panther, Tim Drummond, Taine Paton, Pierre de Voux, Julian Hykes. Rolling subs: Gowan Jones (GK), Dan Bell, Robin Jones, Dan Sibbald, Natius Malgraff, Keenan Horne, Shannon Boucher.

Pool B: France 3 Belarus 0; Azerbaijan 1 Czech Republic 1 (penalty shootout) Azerbaijan 3 Czech Republic 1. Pool A: Egypt 4 China 1; South Africa 2 Switzerland 0.

* Pool A: 1 South Africa 8pts (goal difference 3); 2 Egypt 6pts (GD4); 3 China 4pts (GD1); 4 Switzerland 0pts (GD -10).
* Pool B: 1 France 9pts (GD11); 2 Czech Republic 4pts (GD-2); 3 Belarus 3pts (GD-4); 4 Azerbaijan 2pts (GD-5).

11h45 Czech Republic vs China; 14h00 Egypt vs Belarus; 16h15 France vs Switzerland; 18h30 South Africa vs Azerbaijan.