The second test of the SPAR Indoor test series between SPAR South Africa and the visiting Irish took place tonight at Danville Park Girls School in Durban North. The hosts had triumphed 2-1 in a tight battle on the opening night and were looking to take a 2-0 lead before the series heads to the Pro Series Indoor Nationals in Cape Town.

David Passmore, who has created an extremely competitive side considering the lack of international action, gave International debuts to Chloe Brown and Amy Benson after they sat out the opener while Niamh Small and Naomi Carroll sat this one out. For coach Lennie Botha he would probably have been looking for a little bit more clinical play from the South Africans in front of goal.

Jessica McMaster thought she had her first international goal early in the game when she put the ball past Cheree Greyvenstein, but the whistle had rightfully already gone for a lift in the build-up. They then relied on a bit of superb Irish luck and skill to deny Robyn Johnson a goal as Chloe Brown made a wonderful goal line clearance. The way she plucked the ball out of its route to goal was almost as unbelievable as the magic acts on America’s Got Talent. And not long after that Ireland really should have been ahead. Amy Benson made a wonderful run up the wing before laying off a superb ball that McMaster fired just wide.

The miss would come back to haunt them as less than 60 seconds later Edith Modikoe finished with a deft slide past Millie Regan after wonderful work from Eloise Walters. Regan did however keep the score at 1-0 with a good save from an SA penalty corner to wrap up a tense first quarter.

If the first quarter was the starter the second was merely the pallet cleanser. The game was being played tentatively in the middle of the park and both teams were struggling to but sustained periods of possession together. The biggest chances fell to the South Africans with Robyn Johnson, Cindy Hack and Kara Botes all were denied by different levels of sensational goalkeeping by Regan. Ireland will be disappointed that they didn’t take advantage of their sole penalty corner in the quarter.

The second half raised the level of hockey and the intensity and Ireland looked to be establishing a foothold in the game. Ironically it was after their own sustained period of possession that South Africa created the first chance of the half winning a penalty corner through Molikoe. Much to the frustration of Botha this one and the next were not converted and the Irish started to believe they could level. It came fantastically from Orla Patton. Caroline Adams subbed on, received the ball and found Patton open. Pattons first shot was saved by Greyvenstein but with nobody cleaning up the scraps she reacted first to the rebound to earn her first international goal.

The last ten minutes saw SPAR South Africa lay siege to the Irish defence. They worked a fantastic opportunity for Jess O’Connor in her 94th test, but her shot was agonisingly wide, before Robyn Johnson was given a half chance but couldn’t control it sufficiently. The Irish defence was standing tall but Kara Botes stood up to be counted and fired home a wonderful PC to give SA a 2-1 lead. Botes once again showing she can be relied on in the big moments for South Africa.

Cindy Hack was denied late on before Ireland broke with a 3-on-2, but were met with the traditional bus is full save from Jess O’Connor to deny them a chance and seal the victory and a 2-0 series lead for the hosts.

The series now heads to Cape Town where the third test will be played on Saturday and will be televised on Digitv.co.za.

SPAR Test Series

Durban – Danville Park Girls High School
First Test - Wednesday 4 December – South Africa 2-1 Ireland
Second Test – Thursday 5 December – South Africa 2-1 Ireland

Cape Town – Bellville Velodrome
Third Test – Saturday 7 December – 19:00
Fourth Test – Sunday 8 December – 19:00
Fifth Test – Tuesday 10 December – 09:30
Sixth Test – Tuesday 10 December – 19:00

At the end of the SPAR Indoor Test Series between South Africa and Ireland, the hosts will have played 29 indoor hockey test matches in the year, incredibly this test match was the first in 29 years for the visitors. Incredibly that meant that all but three of ladies would not have been alive when that team competed. As a result, all 12 players that featured in the opening test match made their international debuts.

So, with a wealth of international indoor inexperience but tons of good old Irish gumption, the Irish arrived to play a team amid a sensational program of indoor hockey. That programme has seen the SPAR South African ladies go undefeated for 14 consecutive tests including matches against Switzerland and Czech Republic. It was all set up for a historic first test between the two hockey loving nations.

The South Africans started like the team more used to indoor hockey and quickly dominated the early proceedings with some quick interchanges that underlined their attacking approach to the game. Unfortunately for all their domination the hosts were unable to delight the audience with a goal in the opening ten minutes but limited the visitors to a few counter attacks that the likes of Jess O’Connor and Kara Botes dealt with effectively.

Although the Irish got a little bit more ball in the second quarter with Orla Fox looking particularly impressive, the South Africans continued to dictate the pace of the game with Jamie Southgate proving to be a menace for the Irish. As the game was petering towards a deadlocked half time score, despite the best efforts of Cindy Hack and Edith Molikoe, it was Robyn Johnson who popped up to put the hosts 1-0 up. Kara Botes won the ball on defence in her own D, switched it to Amy Greaves who played an inch perfect long ball to Cindy Hack who squared for Johnson after a lung bursting run from the goal scorer to gain the lead.

Ireland had an early chance in the second half for Kate McKenna but Cheree Greyvenstein blocked the shot before the South Africans doubled their lead within 60 seconds. Amy Greaves and Cindy Hack combined in the middle of the park before a sublime ball from the skipper sent Greaves one on one with Millie Regan and she made no mistake in her 66th test match.

Ireland, to their credit, held firm though and although their chances were limited, they were never out of the contest through some impressive defensive work with the likes of Niamh Small and Sophie Barnwell impressing. Barnwell won the Irish a penalty corner in the 35th minute of the game and they Orla Fox finished superbly to score the first Irish indoor goal in 29 years.

Although Ireland sensed the opportunity for an upset, the South Africans management of the final five minutes of the game will be particularly pleasing to Lennie Botha and his coaching team. The team held possession, controlled the pace and limited the Irish to a few desperate breaks while creating a few opportunities themselves to kill off the game. At the end, as the Irish would say, it was great craic and sets up the remainder of the series outstandingly well.

SPAR Test Series

Durban – Danville Park Girls High School
First Test - Wednesday 4 December – South Africa 2-1 Ireland
Second Test – Thursday 5 December – 18:00

Cape Town – Bellville Velodrome
Third Test – Saturday 7 December – 19:00
Fourth Test – Sunday 8 December – 19:00
Fifth Test – Tuesday 10 December – 09:30
Sixth Test – Tuesday 10 December – 19:00

 

 

 

With the fantastic support of SPAR, the South African Indoor Hockey Women have had a superb programme that has seen them grow from strength to strength over the past five or six years. The adventure continues this week as the hosts will take on Ireland for the first time on the indoor courts.

Ireland made waves last year when they made the final of the Outdoor FIH Hockey World Cup performing well outside their expectations. Their indoor journey though is only about to start again. The six-match series against the hosts in Durban and Cape Town will be the first Irish side to play International Indoor Hockey since 1990, nearly 30 years ago. They have also joined in the third tier of the EuroHockey Indoor Championships which take place in Slovakia in late January.

The Irish side selected features none of the team that qualified for the Olympics, but Naomi Carroll will be familiar with the Green of Ireland having last played outdoor for the country in 2018. The Irish side that plays the first test at Danville Park Girls High School will be co-led by Cloe Brown and Orla Fox, while every single player will be making their International Indoor Hockey debuts.

The South Africans are on a very different part of their journey and feature the two most capped African Indoor Hockey players in history in Jessica O’Connor and Cindy Hack. The team also includes Amy Greaves and Kara Botes who have amassed more than 50 caps for their country while the junior side of the team sees Kayla de Waal looking to add to her six caps won against Switzerland. 

With the series so close to the back of the successful 4-0 series victory against the Swiss, there is no doubt that the South Africans head into this series as the favourites. And with the only change being the availability of Edith Molikoe back and Celia Evans unavailable, coach Lennie Botha will be looking for more of the same.

These six tests will be the last in a year where the South African record is incredibly impressive. In the calendar year so far, they have played 22 test matches winning 16 and losing only 3. They are currently on a 14-match unbeaten run that started with a swashbuckling 7-0 victory over Czech Republic.

The opening two games of the series will be streamed live by Shoot South Africa through the My Youth Hockey Facebook Page, with the details of the streaming for the other games to be shared in the build-up.

Ireland women’s indoor squad - Caroline Adams (Ards), Sophie Barnwell (Muckross), Amy Benson (Ards), Chloe Brown (East Grinstead), Naomi Carroll (Catholic Institute), Orla Fox (Railway Union), Erin Getty (Queen’s University), Tori Hastings (Queen’s University), Kate McKenna (Railway Union), Jessica McMaster (Queen’s University), Roisin O’Brien (Glenanne), Orla Patton (UCD), Millie Regan (East Grinstead), Niamh Small (Loreto)

SPAR South Africa Womens Indoor Squad – Amy Greaves (KZN Inland), Cheree Greyvenstein (SPAR KZN Raiders), Cindy Hack (SPAR KZN Raiders), Edith Molikoe (KZN Inland), Eloise Walters (KZN Inland), Jamie Southgate (Western Province), Jessica Lardant (SPAR KZN Raiders), Jessica O’Connor (SPAR KZN Raiders), Kara Botes (Southern Gauteng), Kayla de Waal (Western Province), Robyn Johnson (Southern Gauteng), Zimi Shange (SPAR KZN Raiders)

SPAR Test Series

Durban – Danville Park Girls High School
First Test - Wednesday 4 December – 18:00
Second Test – Thursday 5 December – 18:00

Cape Town – Bellville Velodrome
Third Test – Saturday 7 December – 19:00
Fourth Test – Sunday 8 December – 19:00
Fifth Test – Tuesday 10 December – 09:30
Sixth Test – Tuesday 10 December – 19:00

 

480 minutes of Indoor Hockey were played across three venues in two provinces with the South African teams tasting defeat exactly zero times. Two teams on opposite ends of their journey’s but with remarkably similar results.

The SPAR South Africa side will look back on a series where they were able to expose a new player in Kayla de Waal while the return from injury of Eloise Walters was also a positive. Over the six matches they won four games, drawing two and in the process scored 18 goals conceding just 9. Cindy Hack was the top scorer netting five field goals, while Zimi Shange produced arguably her finest series for the SPAR South Africa Indoor Hockey side.

What it also means is that since the last African Cup, the South African ladies have played 42 indoor hockey test matches, losing just 3 and winning 34. They have also shown their domination of the Swiss who are ranked nine spots ahead of them on the FIH Indoor Hockey World Rankings. With an upcoming series against Ireland in December before heading to Poland in January, the team will have had the opportunity of playing more than 50 tests in between continental qualifiers. This is possible only thanks to the fantastic support of SPAR and the work of the management team behind the scenes.

SPAR South Africa 3-0 Switzerland
SPAR South Africa 4-1 Switzerland
SPAR South Africa 3-1 Switzerland
SPAR South Africa 4-3 Switzerland
SPAR South Africa 1-1 Switzerland
SPAR South Africa 3-3 Switzerland

For the BlitzStoks, who were powered by Tops at SPAR for this series, it was a different but equally pleasing series. Having not played since the FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup, the team featured a massive overhaul with new players and new coaching staff. Although the squad was split over the Cape Town and Durban legs, the players who earned their first opportunities for the country did exceptionally well.

The five wins and a draw in the six matches gave South Africa its first ever series victory over a European nation or a top eight nation. David Joshua was appointed as head coach prior to the series and has overseen the most successful series of the South African indoor hockey men’s history. The Psi alumni coming in are showing what a pool of players we have in the country.

Mustapha Cassiem played his first international indoor games, playing only in the three games in Cape Town but ended as the series top scorer with 6 of the South African’s 24 goals. In total South Africa had 10 different goal scorers with captain Jethro Eustice and Chad Futcher both getting three.

At present the next challenge for the BlitzStoks has not been set, but we know the hockey community will be excited to see the Lads back on the court.

South Africa 2-2 Switzerland
South Africa 4-3 Switzerland
South Africa 4-3 Switzerland
South Africa 6-5 Switzerland
South Africa 4-2 Switzerland
South Africa 4-1 Switzerland

Pictures – Enhanced Sports / SA Hockey

Two weeks ago, if you had told me that after ten matches of indoor hockey the two South African sides would not have tasted defeat against their higher ranked Swiss opposition, I would have challenged you to renew your prescription.

Of course, I’m not saying that we couldn’t win, but just that it the nature of the game would prove that to be unlikely. Instead as we sit here both the men and women have won four of the five tests with a draw in the other. The BlitzStoks got their most comfortable win with a 4-2 win, while the women were unable to win for the first time in the series with a 1-1 draw.

The SA Indoor ladies, superbly sponsored by SPAR, have been immense throughout the series, but when they went 1-0 up through inspirational captain Cindy Hack you would have strongly suspected that they would be able to hold on for a fifth consecutive victory in the series. But the Swiss have played better hockey at Sunningdale and emerged with a leveller through Tamara Trosch in the 34th minute.

Although the South African squad will be happy with the way the series has gone, their consistent excellence over the past 3 years has meant that they will be looking for nothing less than victory in the final game of the series.

While the SA Women were largely considered to have a shout in the series, the BlitzStoks were not expected to. They were hopeful of sneaking a win or two in the series and they did that in Durban, but since coming to Cape Town they have picked up the gears and have produced not just one, but two outstanding performances on the very big Sunningdale court.

Mustapha Cassiem managed his fourth and fifth international goals in the last quarter to turn a 2-2 draw into a 4-2 win. In just two test matches the 17-year-old has already announced himself on the international indoor stage louder than Hugh Bladen after a night of beers.

Kyle Esau also made it two goals in his two appearances while new captain Jethro Eustice had earlier opened the scoring. With the series already resulting in the most successful series in BlitzStoks history, it will be considered a massive success regardless of the result. Of course, David Joshua will be looking for nothing short of a win!

Like all great movie trilogies, the Indoor Test Series between South Africa and Switzerland men and women, headed into its fourth part in Cape Town. The venue in Western Cape was Sunningdale, a bigger and faster court than the teams had experienced in Durban offering a brilliant and tantalising prospect for the remaining three tests.

The teams had got to know each other in Durban so instead of that awkward first date vibe where you are kind of interviewing one another, this was time for the in-depth conversation about hopes and dreams and your ten-year plan. Okay maybe not quite with the BlitzStoks featuring debutants Mustapha Cassiem, Melrick Maddocks, Kyle Esau, Dayaan Cassiem, Aiden Tun and Marvin Simons. There was also involvement for Jarryd Jones, arguably one of the finest talents in the country.

It was a debut for Mustapha Cassiem to remember as his hat-trick and ultimately seal a remarkable test match for the hosts. In fact, all six of South Africa’s goals in the pulsating 6-5 win were scored by debutants, further reinforcing the wonderful work done by the selection committee for South Africa.

What the thrilling performance of David Joshua’s men has told us further is that the pool of talent for South African indoor hockey is fuller than you after you visit one of those all you can eat buffet spots.

For the South African men, after a long absence from the International stage, have made some great history. The Cassiem brothers becoming the first brothers to score in the same indoor hockey test match for SA, the team winning a first ever test series against European opposition and of course David Joshua remaining undefeated as the Men’s head coach.

For SPAR South Africa they received their sternest test of the series. But just like a dux scholar, even the hardest test could not stop this juggernaut from rolling on. Although Lennie will be unhappy that they conceded three goals, he will be pleased that his team was always in control.

Amy Greaves, Celia Evans and Kara Botes had given the hosts a 3-1 lead after trailing early to a Trosch goal. Stomps made it 3-2 to give the Swiss hope but then a brilliant turnover by Jamie Southgate and an unselfish cross for Cindy Hack led to the skipper netting what would ultimately be the winner.

It remarkably means that the South Africans, ranked 16th in the World, have now beaten Switzerland in 7 of their 9 test matches this year. Such is the domination that the hosts do not enter these competitions as underdogs, but as equals and as value for competition.

The second last test of the series takes place on Friday with the final on Saturday. You can stream the matches on Digitv.

The Durban leg of the Switzerland and South Africa Indoor test series concluded in unfamiliar surroundings after the local organising committee decided to move to Ashton College to protect the quality of indoor hockey on display. Despite the logistics change, the new venue seemed to raise the game for all four teams as they produced a fantastic display of indoor hockey.

Liberated by the improvement in grip the quality of hockey on display ratcheted up a couple of gears much to the joy of the compacted crowd at the Ballito school, as well as all of those watching on the DigiTV live stream.

The BlitzStoks, powered by Tops at SPAR for this series, repeated their heroic performance from the previous night winning 4-3 again, with Keagan Robinson once again getting the match winning goal. The journey to the conclusion was slightly different this time around though. Having given the hosts an early 1-0 lead, skipper Jethro Eustice had to watch on when Yves Morard made it 1-1 in the 23rd minute with a well worked penalty corner variation.

Ignatius Malgraff made it 2-1 when he finished off a wonderful team move for the BlitzStoks capped off by a brilliant last pass by Rusten Abrahams, but that lead was again short lived as Yves Morard used control & c to copy and paste his first goal with a second and restore parity at the end of the third quarter.

The final 10-minute stanza of the game started with a frenetic pace up and down, both teams trading punches like seasoned fighters in the 12th round, essentially the hockey equivalent of a Rocky Balboa movie. Switzerland thought they had landed the knock out punch when they scored from a 34th minute penalty corner through Martin Greder. They were wrong.

The BlitzStoks fought back in a manner refreshing to see and landed their own counter punch through a wonderful piece of Lungani Gabela skill to pull level with 120 seconds of the game remaining. A 3-3 draw would probably have satisfied the South Africans, but they didn’t want to be satisfied, they wanted to be elated, full and content all at the same time and surged forward one more time to win a penalty corner. Big moments need big players and there are few who will back themselves when staring down the cauldron better than Keagan Robinson. He did not disappoint giving the hosts a 4-3 win and a 2-0 series lead. Just writing it is making me tired, although that could also be the lack of sleep from having a new-born at home.

When you think of the SPAR South Africa indoor ladies’ side the word that must come to mind is excellence. Over the past almost 36 months they have raised the bar for Indoor hockey in this country and consistently achieved beyond the expectation. They faced a Swiss side that were fully up for this game tonight and having to withstand some heavy pressure stood firmer than my first car when that truck changed lanes without looking at his blind spot. Zimi Shange was the star of the show in leading a resolute defensive line.

SPAR South Africa scored the opening goal of the game in the ninth minute when Kara Botes finished off another PC variation. Lennie Botha’s team have shown their arsenal of penalty corners to be more lethal than the football team who shares that name. Despite Switzerland knocking on the door with more regularity than I have likes on a social media post, the SPAR South Africa ladies weathered the storm before the customary double punch settled the match.

Skipper Cindy Hack made a lung busting run from the middle of the park and Robyn Johnson picked her captain out superbly for Hack to tap into an open goal. Before Switzerland had a chance to blink, they were caught out again. Wonderful pressure by Amy Greaves saw the ball turned over and an interchange between Greaves and Hack made it certain for the skipper to get another.

With the SPAR South Africa ladies striving for the kind of perfection not seen since my Matric Maths paper, they will be disappointed in letting Switzerland get a small foothold into the game in the final quarter. Nora Murer got the goal from a penalty corner that their performance deserved, but in truth it turned out to be nothing more than a consolation as the SPAR SA Indoor Ladies took an unassailable 3-0 lead in the 6-match series.

The tournament now heads to Sunningdale in Cape Town where there will be matches on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. If you are not in the area you can also watch the games on the livestream by Digitv.

The South African Hockey Association would like to notify all indoor hockey fans that the venue for the final test matches of the Durban leg of the South Africa and Switzerland men and women indoor hockey test series has been moved to Ashton College in Ballito.

The change has been made to ensure the quality of the test matches is not compromised.  We apologise for any inconvenience caused by the moving of venues.

Ashton International College Ballito
Albertina Way
Ballito
KZN

A reminder that following tonight’s game the four teams will travel to Cape Town for the second half of the series on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

For those not able to attend the games live, you can still follow the Live Stream by Digi TV.

The second night of the indoor test series between both the South African and Swiss Men and Women proved to be a night that belonged to the lower ranked South African sides. The BlitzStoks produced a moment of historical significance while SPAR South Africa showed their continued superiority over a team ranked 9 places above them in the Official Indoor Hockey World Ratings.

For the BlitzStoks, powered by Tops at SPAR for this series, it was a night to remember and it became a night for the history books as the BlitzStoks beat their European counterparts 4-3. The victory was the first time a South African Men’s Indoor Hockey team has ever defeated European opposition as well as the first time they have tasted from the sweet cup of victory against a side ranked in the top 8 in the World.

Having faced a few early short corners, the South Africans were able to repel the Swiss attack on an extremely slick surface and then found themselves ahead when Chad Futcher fired a rocket to make it 2 international goals in 2 games for South Africa. They didn’t have to wait long for the second when the BlitzStoks surged forward after a slip from the Swiss and Chad Futcher crossed for Ignatius Malgraff to get his first International Indoor goal, after scoring a fair amount of outdoor goals for the country already.

Having established a two-goal lead, coach David Joshua, will be disappointed with how quickly they invited pressure in defence and were thankful to their upright as it twice denied Michel and Morard respectively. The post could not stop Pascal Knabenhans as he pulled a goal back with a superb penalty corner flick. But the BlitzStoks re-established the two-goal cushion with a fantastic piece of work from Lungani Gabela, his first International goal, after fantastic work from Hezlett and Eustice. 3-1 the half time score in favour of the hosts.

Switzerland showed why they are ranked in the worlds top 10 though with a fight back in the third quarter. Knabenhans made it 3-2 with another fantastic penalty corner, almost a carbon copy of his first before Morard scored a superb goal after patient build up by the Swiss. The finish was perfection and the Swiss had levelled the game. This game was going to need something special to win it and that’s exactly what it got.

Keegan Hezlett almost produced it but ultimately it was Keagan Robinson that did. 870 days after he scored his last indoor international goal, Robinson reminded everyone of his remarkable recovery from knee injury with the type of finish that epitomises his play. His brother Jonty fed Gabela who deflected through to Robinson before a diving finish secured the historic win for the South Africans.

The SPAR South Africa Indoor ladies’ side have built their incredible run of just 3 defeats in their last 37 games on impressive defensive performances. In that time, they had conceded just 46 goals at an average of 1.24 a game, frankly ridiculous. But their victories may be built on steadfast attack, but the ability to attack with superb skill and the regular ability to land a quickfire double punch.

They did that tonight when they opened the scoring from Kara Botes with a superb penalty corner variation. Kara is lethal at the top of the D but letting her pick it up 5m from goal is never going to end well for a defending team. Before Switzerland had a chance to catch their breath it was a Lennie Botha special that saw Kayla de Waal finish expertly to make it 2 in 2 for the 19-year-old and a 2-0 lead for the hosts.

2-0 though once again proved to be a dangerous score and Switzerland pulled a goal back when Nora Murer converted a penalty stroke past Zimi Shange.

Rather than be nervous, this SPAR South African team is built of sterner stuff and that description is apt for the goal scorer of the third. Eloise Walters has only recently recovered from her own knee injury and her goal would have made the KZN Inland province extremely proud, heck it made us all proud. There was still time for one more for South Africa to secure the victory beyond a shadow of a doubt with Robyn Johnson popping up to net her first of the series.

The hosts now head into the third test of the series with a 2-0 lead and are one win away from ensuring they can’t lose the series. Of course, we know that Lennie Botha and his team have grander plans than that.

The third test matches take place on Tuesday and all games are streamed by Digitv.

Pictures – Everlasting Clicks / SA Hockey

The much-anticipated Indoor Test Series between South African and Switzerland’s indoor Men and Women got underway in a massive thunderstorm in Durban North. The weather didn’t put off a capacity crowd inside the Danville Park Indoor Sports Centre, filled with South Africans still high on cloud 9 from the Springbok World Cup win.

The BlitzStoks played the earlier game with the return of Keagan Robinson alongside the debutants Steven Paulo, Lungani Gabela, Keegan Hezlett, Chad Futcher, Jonty Robinson, Anton van Loggerenberg, Ignatius Malgraff and Cameron Goodwin. A largely inexperienced BlitzStoks side, powered by Tops at SPAR for this series, were enterprising in their attack but were caught out by the structured play by the Swiss. Yves Morard scored the first goal of the series from the first Penalty Corner showing why the Swiss were Quarter Finalists at the last Indoor Hockey World Cup.

The BlitzStoks grew into the game with Rusten Abrahams becoming a central figure in building some exciting attacking play. Chad Futcher and Keagan Robinson were able to open opportunities but found Jonas Verest limiting the space. South Africa were maybe left ruing the opportunities they had not converted in the first half when Marco Michel made it 2-0 for the Swiss from another Penalty Corner.

The South Africans though showed the never say die attitude you can attribute to our nation and fought back on a very slippery surface because of the humidity. They won a penalty stroke in the second half but were unable to convert it with Chad Futcher hitting the post. But South Africa would pull a goal back in the last quarter when Jethro Eustice fired home from a penalty corner with 6 minutes remaining. Chad Futcher would score his first international goal and atone for his stroke miss with just three minutes remaining and earn South Africa a credible draw with the world number 8 much to the delight of the partisan crowd.

Captain Jethro Eustice after the game: “We tried to focus on our defence and settle in our combinations. I think Switzerland probably had the best first half, but we were the better team in the second half, so the draw is probably a fair result. We want to bring a bit of youth and excitement into our game and build with this team and the new structures!”

The SPAR South African Indoor ladies record since the last African Cup has been mighty impressive winning 30 of the last 36, losing just three of the test matches in that time. With momentum building impressively the South Africans were keen to show that their series victory over Switzerland in January was not just a flash in the pan, but a show of the progress Lennie Botha’s side have made.

They were quick to show that domination against the Swiss, who themselves were building towards the EuroHockey Championship in January. After having two shots saved off the line by defenders, SPAR South Africa took the lead through captain fantastic Cindy Hack. The score would remain that way until the end of the third quarter when Kayla de Waal on her debut lit Danville up.

Cindy Hack produced a wonderful up the line ball and de Waal picked it up in the D. With her back to goal and under immense pressure from Tanja Landtwing the youngest player in the South African team showed tremendous composure and finished a delightful reverse flick. The Danville crowd were massively appreciative of the goal and so to was the rest of her team.

As Switzerland pushed for a way back into the game it was Celia Evans who put the game to bed for SPAR South Africa. Kayla de Waal turned provider when she crossed the ball for an onrushing Evans to slide it home. A 3-0 win to start the series exactly what the vociferous crowd had ordered.

After the game captain Cindy Hack was delighted: “I am so proud of the girls. There are some things we can still work on, but Im very happy with the performance. The crowd was absolutely sensational, thank you for the support, we are so proud to represent South Africa.”

Pictures – Everlasting Clicks / SA Hockey