Photo - Facebook - Russel Field (Sunlife Vitamins)
It’s been an incredibly tough week in Berlin for the BlitzStoks, having hoped to have closed the gap on the top end of the indoor hockey spectrum, but ultimately have identified differences that are there. Throughout the tournament, the South African men failed to capitalise on their moment of dominance and were then ruthlessly punished by the more efficient opposition. It gives the next era of BlitzStoks something to work on going forward.
Of course, after the disappointment of the group stage, the lads still had to get up for one more time and take on Kazakhstan for the 11th place in the FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup 2018. The game itself is worth an additional 50 World ranking points, so there was more than just pride up for grabs.
It was another good first half by the South Africans but this time they did not concede the late goals that have plagued them throughout the tournament and led through two goals from Matthew Fairweather, their skipper, playing in his 30th indoor hockey test match.
In the second half the BlitzStoks raised their game and showed the German crowd how devastating they could be in attack as Jarryd Jones, Ryan Julius and a Jethro Eustice brace took the South Africans to a convincing 6-0 lead that was only scuppered by a late consolation goal for Daulet Urmanov.
So after 6 matches, the BlitzStoks finish 11th, which has equalled their performances in 2007 and 2015, the ranking points will mean that South Africa will probably move into the top 10 in Indoor World Hockey as well. There is also a good sense of pride in the future as Richard Curtis, Jarryd Jones, Mo Mea, Ryan Julius and Rusten Abrahams are all 25 or younger and the experience will prove crucial in the future of South African Indoor Hockey.
Jethro Eustice shared: “FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup 2018, has been an amazing experience. The BlitzStoks tried their best, but the margins are even tighter than anything I would’ve expected. I feel like I left a lot out there. And I wanted to give my best throughout. Just can’t believe how amazing this tournament is and hopefully make this process better for the next group to come through”
Special thanks to the BlitzStoks sponsors Tops at SPAR, Sunlife Vitamins, Gem Schoolwear, Tayla Sportswear and Pro Series Indoor.
South Africa Results at the Indoor Hockey World Cup 2018
South Africa 0-5 Russia
South Africa 3-6 Austria
South Africa 1-3 Switzerland
South Africa 3-6 Iran
South Africa 2-8 Belgium
11th place Playoff
South Africa 6-1 Kazakhstan