England won the first match of the second Summer Series 5-2 against South Africa. The halftime score was 2-1 for England. All matches in the Summer Series are played at the Hartleyvale Stadium. Germany is the third team involved in the series.
Even though England did manage to score five goals – two in the last three minutes - the South African defence was pretty solid. But it was obvious that the home team lacked some firepower at the sharp end of the field. While England was dangerous every time they got close to the goal circle, South Africa did not make the same impact on a constant basis throughout the match like the visitors did.
The only real chances of scoring in the first chukka were created by England. The visitors had a penalty corner and with 20 seconds left only the goalkeeper to beat and in both cases Rassie Pieterse, keeper and captain, guarded with goal-box with great success.
No surprise then that the disappointment was immense when England scored two goals in less than a minute two minutes into the second quarter. Sam Ward, playing his in 50th game for his country, scored first and then Christopher Griffiths hit the back of the goal-box.
In the 20th minute South Africa got one goal back when Jonty Robinson scored a penalty. The penalty stroke was rewarded after a well-constructed penalty corner that had England’s defence scrabbling and forced the error.
After 40 minutes of play England scored again. This time it was Michael Hoare.
In the final chukka South Africa scored a great goal. Robinson gave a long pass from the halfway line and striker Bili Ntuli were in the perfect position to put out his stick for the deflection to hit the back of the goal-box. Replacement goalkeeper Gowan Jones was made to work very hard in the final quarter. David Goodfield got one past him with just more than two minutes left in the match and then Liam Ansell scored the last goal.
Rusten Abrahams was the only South African to make his debut while some 10 players from England got the opportunity to play for their country for the first time.
South Africa’s next game is against Germany on Sunday. Action starts at 16:00.
The rest of the series’ schedule: Saturday, 4 March @ 16:00 – England v Germany; Sunday, 5 March @ 16:00 – South Africa v Germany; Monday, 6 March @ 18:00 – South Africa v England; Wednesday, 8 March @ 18:00 England v Germany; Thursday, 9 March @ 18:00 – South Africa v Germany.