Both the SA Hockey Men and SA Hockey Women approached their second match at the Commonwealth Games with a renewed determination to change their fortunes after opening defeats.
The SA Men had the toughest possible opponent to attempt that against as they came up against Australia the current World League, Azlan Shah and Oceania Cup champions and the only team to ever win a Commonwealth Games Gold Medal. The supposed gulf in class was not evident in the opening 30 minutes as the SA Men looked a different team from the one turned over early by Scotland.
South Africa had an early Penalty corner saved off the line, while consistently denying Australia the clear cut opportunities expected of them. Ryan Crowe, Ryan Julius, and Bili Ntuli all fashioned half chances, but the kind of chances that you would need to convert if you are to beat the Australians. The wind would have been taken out of the sails somewhat as Trent Milton made it 1-0 to the hosts.
South Africa continued to show incredible heart and there were some great saves from Gowan Jones and Tim Drummond, who twice cleared off the line, to deny the Australians a runaway lead. But the second half, in truth, was all Australia and they eventually got the goals that their dominance probably deserved. Milton, Jeremy Hayward, and Aaron Kleinschmidt scored the goals that settled the result as 4-0 in favour of the world number one.
South Africa 0-4 Australia
8 April – 08:32 – South Africa vs. New Zealand
The SA Hockey Women would have hoped to cause an upset against England in their opener, but would not have been overly upset with the 2-0 loss. Their focus would be on winning the next two games and setting up a grandstand match against India to decide the spot in the top 4.
They came up against a Malaysian side who had been turned over 4-1 by the Indians and looked on paper like a routine win. But this was far from a one-sided game. Malaysia picked up five penalty corners in the match to South Africa’s six. The circle penetrations were 30-22 in favour of South Africa, while there were 14 shots apiece.
South Africa will be frustrated at their inability to finish chances and found themselves 1-0 down after Said popped up to give the Malaysians the lead. South Africa leveled in the first minute of the last quarter when Stephanie Baxter latched onto a loose ball to cross for Jade Mayne to finish. South Africa then laid siege to the opposition D but could not convert. Kristen Paton and Shelley Jones were particularly impressive in their attempts but Malaysia was resolute in defence and had a great chance to seal the game themselves with a late break.
The result means that South Africa have to win their remaining two games to get into the top 4, no draws will be enough.
South Africa 1-1 Malaysia
9 April – 06:32 – South Africa vs. Wales