The university town of Potchefstroom in South Africa has been home to some fantastic FIH Hockey Pro League men’s matches over the past 14 days and it all came to an end with another defeat for the hosts. Come April and top Junior women teams will be in the town to play in the World Cup.
Germany put in a solid performance to beat South Africa 3-1. The result moves Germany to second spot in the FIH Hockey Pro League behind Netherlands.
For South Africa, this was its eighth game in a fortnight, and each match has pushed the team to its physical limits. But, for Head Coach Garreth Ewing, the learning opportunities gained from exposure to international competition from around the world has been invaluable.
The first quarter was played at a pulsating pace and it was South Africa who first caused defensive problems as the efforts of Nqobile Ntuli and Dayaan Cassiem put together caused consternation to the German defence.
It was Germany who took the lead in the 11th minute as Dan Bell was unable to get his foot out of the way in front of his own goal. Christopher Ruhr made no mistake as he sent the ball past Estiaan Kriek in the South Africa goal.
The second quarter saw Germany batter the South Africa defence with a barrage of penalty corners but Gowan Jones in the South Africa goal was equal to the task. A breakthrough came with three minutes left when a foul in the circle led to Germany’s second penalty stroke. Malte Hellwig made no mistake as he slotted the ball home.
The third quarter saw things heat up as South Africa chased a grandstand finish to the match. Both teams received yellow cards as players upped the pace and ferocity of their play, however neither side were able to add to the score-line during this passage of play.
Just seconds into the final quarter and Germany finally made a penalty corner count. A variation saw Hellwig’s shot well-saved but Paul- Philipp Kaufmann was able to find a way past Estiaan Kriek, who had replaced Jones in the South African goal.
The home side finally found a reward for its hard work in the 47th minute. Ryan Julius made a penetrating run down the right-side of the pitch and drew a foul which led to a penalty corner. Connor Beauchamp made no mistake as he rifled the ball home.
That was the final score of the game and the win means Germany move to second in the FIH Hockey Pro League table.
Following the game, Player of the Match and German captain Mats Grambusch said: ‘In the end we were happy with the three points, South Africa played well. We have improved over the last 15 days that we have been here but now, our legs are tired.
‘Quite a lot has changed for us. We have a new coach, several new players and some injuries, so I am proud that we have moved from ninth to second in the league.’
South Africa’s captain Keenan Horne said he was proud of the way his team had developed their game management. He added that the team was excited and looking forward to the rest of the FIH Hockey Pro League season.
South Africa 1, Germany 3
Player of the Match: Mats Grambusch (Germany)