The South African Men’s team was facing an uphill battle as they had suffered two narrow defeats, making it unlikely for them to qualify for the crossovers. However, they were determined to test their mettle against the world’s top-ranked side and prepare for the playoffs with the goal of finishing in the top 12 still very much within reach.
As the match began, the South Africans were met with frustration as their keeper, Gowan Jones, made a fantastic save, but the rebound was picked up by the Australian player, Blake Govers. Despite this setback, the South Africans were determined to make the most of their opportunity. However, it was clear that it was going to be a tough afternoon for them as the Australians continued to press forward, hunting for a second goal.
The South Africans levelled through Bili Ntuli. An aerial ball from Dayaan Cassiem found Ntuli in space and he fired home with a cover drive type of finish that would not be amiss in the current SA20 tournament.
Disappointingly for the South Africans it was a parity that did not stay like that for long as Australia restored the lead through a Tom Craig goal. Australia then became the Blake Govers Association as the Australian hitman hit three more to make it 5-1 to the world’s leading team.
The South Africans had the opportunity to pull one back as they were awarded a penalty stroke after an illegal intervention from the Australians. Nic Spooners shot was saved by Andrew Charter and immediately the South Africans were punished as Jake Harvey ran through unmarked and made it 6-1 with the half time whistle still a few minutes away. And there was time for a seventh after a penalty corner was well charged down Australia reacted first and Nathan Ephraums obliged.
Coach Cheslyn Gie asked for the team to be tougher and fight more in the second half and will be disappointed that they conceded one minute in from a Jeremy Haywood penalty corner. South Africa, who had lost their referral in the first half, were let off from a terrible penalty corner decision when Govers fired over the top of the goal.
Australia was then awarded a penalty corner for a foot when the ball come off Guy Morgan’s stick, but fortunately Estiaan Kriek made a good save and the deficit remained seven. Tevin Kok almost produce one of his characteristic world class goals as the South Africans finally gave a better account of themselves in the third quarter. It finished with the score 8-1.
South Africa won an early penalty corner in the final quarter. Beauchamp got tremendous power from the shot but missed the target frustratingly. Kriek made another good save on his World Cup debut, but Australia would add another through Tim Brand to make it 9-1 to the Australians.
South Africa would give the game its final glittering end with a rocket from Tevin Kok as he picked up an overhead from Dayaan Cassiem and smashed it into the roof of the net. For the South Africans it was a stark reminder of the gap to the top teams and the work ahead to bridge it. All eyes will now turn to the playoffs as the SA Men look to finish as high as possible.