[img_assist|nid=3452|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=100]An on-song South Africa men’s hockey team beat Brazil 11-1 after leading 4-0 at half-time in their opening Olympic Qualifier Tournament match in Japan Thursday.
Attack-minded defender Justin Reid-Ross netted four times, twice with stunning penalty corners, a brace apiece went to striker Lloyd Norris-Jones and midfielder Tim Drummond, a penalty stroke by Andrew Cronje, and action goals from Jonty Robinson and Thornton McDade found just one reply from Brazil in Mattheus Borges’ soft penalty corner.
The heavy drizzle did not deter the SA players and their attacking intent in the first five minutes set the tone. Pinning the Brazilians pinned in their defensive third, there was no way out for the South Americans.
Threading a way through a crowded defence was not easy and Brazilian goalkeeper Daniel Tatara was frequently alert to the danger, despite the final scoreline.
But in the 20th the gates were open when Tim Drummond initiated a move that saw the back three prominent, and the defence splitting pass from Clint Panther saw Norris-Jones bury the chance with the minimum of fuss (1-0).
Panther was again prominent in a move that resulted in Marvin Harper’s effort turning into a penalty stroke and ice-cool Cronje sent the keeper the other way for the 2-0 scoreline with 12 to the changeover.
Captain Austin Smith could scarcely believe it when an outstretched Tatara somehow got a foot to SA’s first penalty corner but with five left a lurking Drummond netted a diving deflection from Cronje’s visionary pass (3-0).
A rare Brazilian entry into the scoring zone was tidied up by Reid-Ross and the defender was rewarded with SA’s second PC soon after but Bruno Sousa pulled his low flick off the line. Panther got in a shot from Ian Haley’s pass and on half-time the third PC ballooned the back of the net, such was the power of the Reid-Ross rocket (4-0).
There was goal mayhem soon after the changeover, with Brazil’s Borges scoring a soft corner, SA restoring their four-goal margin immediately through Drummond (5-1) and then Reid-Ross getting his second and third goals, both times from field play, for his hat-trick (7-1).
A combination of keeper Tatara and a crowded defence kept the scorekeepers quiet for a while before Robinson rifled the most emphatic of field goals into the back of the net (8-1).
SA were stringing their passes together in fluid fashion and a top pass from Lance Louw freed up McDade for 9-1. Julian Hykes nearly made it 10 when his shot cannoned into the crossbar but Reid-Ross righted that wrong with another jaw-dropping PC drag-flick (10-1) and typical Tim Drummond sleight of hand set up Norris-Jones’ second just before the end (11-1).
SA TEAM vs BRAZIL
Goalkeepers: Rassie Pieterse (Southern Gauteng), Michael Smith (Witwatersrand).
Defenders: Andrew Cronje (Western Province), Justin Reid-Ross (Northern Blues), Lance Louw (SG), Rhett Halkett (NB).
Midfielders: Jonty Robinson (NB), Clinton Panther (SG), Austin Smith (capt, WP), Tim Drummond (KCR), Wade Paton (KCR).
Strikers: Ian Haley (WP), Marvin Harper (KCR), Lloyd Norris-Jones (WP), Julian Hykes (Amathole-Border), Thornton McDade (SG).
Rested: Lloyd Madsen (KZN Coastal Raiders), Taine Paton (KCR).
REST OF SA MATCH PROGRAMME
April 28: vs Czech Republic (3 am SA time); April 30: vs China (11.30 am SA time); May 2: vs Japan (9 am SA time); May 4: vs Austria (11.30 am SA time); May 6: Classification matches (5/6 places); (3/4 places); final (8 am SA time).