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Julian Hykes © Stanislas Brochier

SA beat Chile in warm-up in Rio



The South Africa men’s hockey team had the lion’s share of the first half but were unable to break the deadlock against Chile by halftime before running away with a 3-0 win after a productive second half in this World League Round 2 warm-up match at the Deodoro in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Monday.

The field goals were scored by Julian Hykes in the 40th minute, Pierre de Voux in the 51st and Clint Panther in the 58th.

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.

SA appealed for a penalty stroke soon after but to no avail.

Robinson and Hykes 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 halftime whistle to leave the score -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 Julian 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 Clint Panther made the game safe at 3-0 after excellent SA build-up play.

There were some good moments in defence, too, for SA with Jethro Eustice in particular making a key tackle that prevented a possible goal.

Captain Rhett Halkett’s SA team open their WLR2 campaign against Brazil at 2pm (SA time) om 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 semifinals events, which will take place in Rotterdam, The Netherlands from June 13 to 23, and in Johor Bahru, Malaysia from June 29-July 7.

Those countries that qualify for the World League semifinals 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 semifinal event will go through to the eight-team WL finals event early next year.

World number 12 SA beat the USA 3-0 in a warm-up match last Saturday after leading by the same scoreline at halftime.

SA MATCHES (SA time)

Wed 27 Feb vs Brazil (2 pm)
Thurs 28 Feb vs USA (4 pm)
Sat 2 Mar vs Trinidad & Tobago (4 pm)
Sun 3 Mar vs Argentina (4 pm)
Tues 5 Mar vs Chile (2 pm)

SOUTH AFRICA MEN’S HOCKEY TEAM

Miguel da Graca, Clint Panther, Ricky West, Oliver Whiteley, Rassie Pieterse (all Southern Gauteng); Lloyd Norris-Jones, Craig Haley, Ashlin Freddy, Austin Smith, Pierre de Voux (all Western Province); Taine Paton, Tim Drummond, Gowan Jones (all KZN Coastal Raiders); Jethro Eustice (KZN Inland); Jonty Robinson, Rhett Halkett (capt), Matt Guise-Brown (all Northern Blues); Julian Hykes (North West).



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