The South Africa men’s hockey team beat Canada 2-0 at a packed Hartleyvale in Cape Town late Sunday afternoon after leading 1-0 at half-time. Jonty Robinson scored from the penalty spot in the 24th minute after Dan Sibbald had been upended in the strike zone, this after the midfielder had received the ball in space and made ground to set up a goal shot. Tevin Kok, one of the numerous new players in the SA squad who have been put through their paces during the past 10 days, scored SA’s second goal in the 39th minute with an excellent backhand shot.
The fixture was changed from Test match status to an international match at the request of the Canadians but as SA head coach Fabian Gregory said afterwards: ‘Hey, we’ll take the win, it was well-deserved.’ The vibe in the stadium was a treat, according to a spectator, and for the most part the SA men did not disappoint. Gregory says the first two chukkas were fairly even but: ‘We didn’t keep our shape, there were too many double turnovers.’ In spite of that, the SA men were left to rue a great opportunity when they squandered a three-versus-one situation.
Gregory says SA started poorly in the second half but once the team began to press higher up in the field and the midfielders wrested control, their fortunes changed: ‘We had clear-cut goalscoring opportunities and I was disappointed that we failed to convert them.’ One of the big pluses during the team’s time together in Cape Town has been the massive improvement in their defensive structure, says Gregory. The coach was also pleased to give young keepers Rob McKinley and Chad Durrheim a run in the second half after Gowan Jones took care of the goalmouth in the first period.
He says: ‘What I have been really impressed with over the past 10 days is how the senior players have answered my call to raise their level and the way in which the new guys have stepped up to the requirements of senior international hockey.’
Photo credit: ACTION PIX