On the back of the iWyze Under 16 Hockey Nationals in Pietermaritzburg, the now annual International U18 Series between the South African Schools and Australian District Schools kicked off in front of a fantastic crowd at the UKZN Astro. Not only was there a big crowd at the stadium, but the game was streamed live on YouTube much to the delight of the hockey supporting community.
Girls | South Africa 2-1 Australia
In the opening game it was the South African girls who made history when they beat Australia for the first time in the history of these series. It didn’t start well for the SA girls as they found themselves trailing to an Annika Toohey goal as the Australians looked to be up to speed quickly in the game. The South African girls, under the tutelage of double Olympian Lenise Marais, grew into the game and started to create more sustained possession and a few circle entries, but were probably not creating enough chances and it looked like it would remain 1-0 at half time before Bianca Wood produced a fantastic control and finish to pull it level.
The goal delighted the fans including South African U21 coach Robin van Ginkel who would have been impressed by some of the action that he saw. In the second half both teams created opportunities but were kept out by some incredibly disciplined defensive displays. The game looked like it needed a moment of quality to be the differentiator and ultimately it was Bianca Wood who created it with a great touch to create space before sliding it past Caitlin Barnard in the Australian goal to secure a historic victory for the South Africans.
SA Girls Team – Mishka Ellis, Jacolene Mclaren, Ammaarah Hendricks, Edith Molikoe (C), Angela Welham, Carienke Jacobs, Kayla de Waal, India Hardie, Thati Zulu, Bianca Wood, Francisca Darkoh, Zimkhita Smayile, Laila Williams, Samantha Smuts, Julia Hoal, Jean-Leigh du Toit & Elita van Staden
Boys | South Africa 3-3 Australia
Lightning does in fact strike twice in Pietermaritzburg as the Australian Boys mirrored the start of their female compatriots when they took a 1-0 lead in 2 minutes through a lethal bullet from Cambell Geddes at the penalty corner. South African star Jethro Eustice was on commentary and had remarked how impressive Geddes was in the warm-ups, we didn’t have to take his word after seeing that goal go in. But in the exact same way as the Girls game, South Africa started to grow into the game and the form of Cody Posthumus, Peter Jarvis and Jared Campbell was turning the momentum into the hosts favour and the increased pressure paid off when Jarvis finished off a brilliant bit of work by Posthumus. Both sides created chances but were unable to make them count as the first half came to an end.
The second half started with Australia starting stronger and they created a superb chance through the individual skill of Craig Marais but a fantastic save by Sihle Ngcongo kept it level. Ngcongo turned it on again when he saved a penalty stroke from Joshua Brooks to keep it level. Which didn’t stay that way for long as Steven Conway put SA ahead through a great PC variation. Australia pulled level eventually managing to beat the inspired Ngcongo in goals when Marais finished off a fantastic team goal to level with 15 minutes remaining. You may have been excused for thinking the game would peter out into a team draw but both teams had different ideas when Peter Jarvis put South Africa ahead with just sixty seconds left on the clock but Joshua Brooks atoned for the missed penalty stroke when he finished off in packed D to send the travelling support into celebration.
SA Boys Team – Taine Bird, Suubi Sekawabe, Andre Bradford, Jared Campbell, Mpumelelo Maphumulo, Luke Wynford, Idrees Abdulla, Teven Petersen, Cody Posthumus, Peter Jarvis, Angelo Walstroom, Marvin Simons, Matt Dewar (c), Ivann van der Merwe, Joshua Findlay, Steven Conway, Niel Raath & Sihle Ngcongo Tonight will be the second match of the series with the boy’s game at 17:45 and the girls at 19:30. You can watch the matches live on YouTube.