KZN Coastal Raiders star Gareth Carr nailed the winning goal with just a second left in the most thrilling of Test matches as South Africa won the first Test in the EagleTurf SA/Argentina Men’s Hockey Series 5-4 at Kaspersky Park in Randburg on Friday night.
Matias Paredes picked up the ball inside the SA 23-metre area to open the scoring after four minutes. Justin Reid-Ross brought joy to SA supporters with a great run up the left when he beat several players and the home side looked threatening. The left flank was working for SA and Taine Paton scored a brilliant equaliser eight minutes into the game.
Then it was Amathole-Border striker Julian Hykes to get in on the act with a phenomenal shot that raised the roof of the net (2-1). After that there was mayhem in the crowd when Carr’s first penalty corner was cleared off the line by post man Fernando Zylberberg and seconds later Tim Drummond smashed past the keeper for 3-1 before the crowd erupted again when the lightning quick Lloyd Norris-Jones made it 4-1.
Lucas Vila brought heart to his team with a field goal and six goals had been scored in the first 22 minutes! Drummond and Clinton Panther then got in double shots but Argentina somehow survived.
Turning around at 4-2 up SA needed a disciplined second half to stay ahead but Lucas Rey wriggled through for Rodrigo Vila to have the simplest of tap-ins and with half an hour left and now trailing by just one goal, Argentina had plenty of time to win this game.
Norris-Jones was unlucky at one end but Vila drew the teams level soon after to make it 4-4.
Play then swung from goalmouth to goalmouth in a frenzy of activity but SA wasted two penalty corners until the dying seconds when Carr, the Durban man with big-match temperament, ballooned the back of the net with the winning corner drag-flick (5-4).
The second and final Test of the series is on Sunday at Randburg and SA will field a new-look team as the bulk of the first-choice players fly out to their European clubs on Saturday.
It will be a massive test for the untried newcomers against the dazzling Argentinians but SA has the talent to make this second encounter as stunning an exhibition of the very best in hockey as the first.