South Africa and Great Britain met in their second Sultan of Johor Cup group game in Malaysia on Monday, both looking to bounce back from opening day defeats and keep their semi-final hopes alive.
Despite an initial delay due to inclement weather the game eventually got underway. South Africa appeared patient in possession seeking for opportunities to breach the Great Britain defense but were struggling to get the connections in the final third. They won the first penalty corner of the game after a poor Great Britain challenge, but James Flint shot was saved easily enough. On the cusp of the quarter break South Africa conceded a penalty corner, but superb calmness to clear it.
South Africa produced a couple of circle entries in the second quarter early on, but despite creating moments of danger there was a lack of end product that let Great Britain off the hook repeatedly. From a penalty corner for Great Britain South Africa produced a sterling counter attack but once again the shot was not produced.
Great Britain looked a bit more dialed in during the second stanza and Virissimo was forced into a straight forward, but necessary, save early in the half. Cameron le Forrestier looked to weave some magic, but Ayakha Mthalane shot was saved and it was Great Britain who would go up the other end and open the scoring. It was a contentious goal for the Europeans as a stick check went unpunished despite the protestations of the defense and a tap in at the back post established a lead.
The South Africans determinedly continued to fight back against a resolute Great Britain defense, and they were rewarded. Ross Montgomery showed strength and determination and forced the ball across where Josh de Klerk prodded home to give the African champions a deserved equalizer.
Great Britain though was awarded a very fortuitous penalty corner with two minutes on the clock. The ball appeared to strike the Great Britain foot, but the penalty corner was awarded. Penrose fired it low to give the Europeans the lead with 120 seconds left on the clock.
Unfortunately, the gents were unable to find the equalizer and tasted a heart-breaking defeat. South Africa complete their group campaign on Tuesday when they face Australia at 12:05 South African time.