Our men’s hockey side had a victorious warm-up ahead of their World League Round 2 campaign in Rio de Janeiro on Monday night, beating Chile 3-0 at the Deodoro venue.
The team had the lion’s share of the first half but were unable to break the deadlock before running away with a productive second half. The field goals were scored by Julian Hykes in the 40th minute, Pierre de Voux in the 51st and Clint Panther in the 58th, writes Jon Cook.
SA head coach Charlie Pereira rested top keeper Rassie Pieterse, giving Gowan Jones a start, as well as defender Matt Guise-Brown, while midfield dynamo Austin Smith was thrust straight into action after flying in Monday morning from club commitments in The Netherlands and striker Lloyd Norris-Jones was due to arrive from the same country late Monday night.
World number 25 Chile, who ran WLR2 favourites and number 10-ranked Argentina close in a 3-2 defeat in a South American regional final recently, began well but in the third minute Taine Paton got in a reverse-stick shot after Craig Haley’s set-up, the good work having started down the right by Ollie Whiteley.
SA’s first PC came and went as De Voux and Hykes began putting it together upfront and in the 10th minute Miguel da Graca broke free but shot past the far post.
Six minutes later Jonty Robinson’s neat skills in midfield initiated an attack and Da Graca forced SA’s second PC, Smith’s drag-flick bringing a glove save to the keeper’s left.ÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿SA appealed for a penalty stroke soon after but to no avail.
Robinson and Hykes then worked a move but Da Graca’s shot flew past the wrong side of the far post again. In the 25th, Hykes and Robinson combined for Paton to let slip a reverse-stick shot to induce a goalkeeper save while at the other end SA stopper Jones finally got in on the act seconds before the half-time whistle to leave the score 0-0 at the break.
Early in the second half, Smith and Haley brought a double save from the keeper before Tim Drummond showed presence of mind in a tight spot to set up Hykes for a simple tap-in (1-0) after 40 minutes.
De Voux finished well to make it 2-0 in the 51st minute and three minutes later Jones made a great save low to his right from Chile’s first penalty corner. Then in the 58th Panther made the game safe at 3-0 after some excellent SA build-up play.
There were also good moments in defence for SA with Jethro Eustice in particular making a key tackle that prevented a possible goal.ÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿Captain Rhett Halkett’s SA team open their WLR2 campaign against Brazil at 2pm SA time on Wednesday.
The top two teams at the conclusion of the Rio round-robin tournament will qualify for one of the two World League men’s semi-finals events, which will take place in Rotterdam, Netherlands from 13-23 June and in Johor Bahru, Malaysia from June 29-July 7.
Those countries that qualify for the World League semi-finals in The Netherlands and Malaysia will be divided into each eight-team tournament on the basis of their world rankings and the top four in each semi-final event will go through to the eight-team WL finals event early next year.
SA MATCHES (SA time)
Wed 27 Feb vs Brazil (2pm)
Thurs 28 Feb vs USA (4pm)
Sat 2 Mar vs Trinidad & Tobago (4pm)
Sun 3 Mar vs Argentina (4pm)
Tues 5 Mar vs Chile (2pm)