The South African men’s hockey team closed out an emphatic series whitewash over the United States with a convincing 5-1 victory in Ballito on Wednesday.
The Proteas scored in each quarter to gain 20.6 ranking points for the series and close the gap on Ireland who are currently ranked 13th to just 30 points, according to sahockey.co.za.
Things did not start as well as the scoreline suggests for the South Africans, who had honoured Bili Ntuli before the game for his 50th cap, as the USA side had three consecutive penalty corners early in the game. The South Africans were resolute in defence with Keenan Horne particularly impressive in charging down as the first wave.
USA were left to rue those chances as South Africa took the lead and from that moment on never relinquished their dominance. The opener came when Le-Neal Jackson, playing in his second test, had a drag flick illegally blocked on the line. Jethro Eustice took the resultant penalty stroke firing it into the roof of the net.
Eustice was called on again in the second quarter when another shot was illegally blocked and the defensive stalwart for the hosts made no mistake with a low finish. The third goal offered a momentary glimpse into the talents of Mustapha Cassiem who produced an up and under that would have made Faf de Klerk proud, to send Owen Mvimbi through. Jonathan Klages came storming out of his goal, but when he failed to clear the ball Mvimbi made a difficult chance look simple.
Dayaan Cassiem was the scorer of the fourth for the South Africans – who probably should have had more at that stage – when he reacted first to a blocked shot by Klages, who was making numerous saves to keep the scoreline respectable. The USA men did get a consolation goal through Christian de Angelis, but ultimately as they had throughout the series, the hosts had the last laugh.
Breaking forward on another counter, Dayaan Cassiem chose to be unselfish and squared for Taine Paton who will not score many easier international hockey goals for South Africa.
Overall, it was a successful series for Garreth Ewing’s side who have looked fantastic at stages. It will also give the selection team some good thoughts to ponder. They now head up to Johannesburg to take on sixth-ranked Germany in four tests, with several changes to the squad and another big opportunity for players to raise their hands for the Olympic squad.
SA Summer Series – Legacy Cup Results
SA 4-2 USA
SA 2-1 USA
SA 6-3 USA
SA 5-1 USA
Photo: Jethro Eustice by Ashley Vlotman/GalloImages