While the untried, inexperienced and young team made up of the 26-player SA training squad were shaded 2-1 by Canada in a 6pm training match Sunday after the score was 1-1 at half-time, Ireland were edged 3-2 by Spain in the official Test match, which took place at 4pm.
Assistant coach Garreth Ewing said SA used 20 players in the training match, two of the goalkeepers sharing the game and 18 field players getting a run as well. Experienced striker Lloyd Norris-Jones scored SA’s goal.
The SA squad will be trimmed to the standard 11 in the starting line-up with seven rolling substitutes for the Ireland Test match.
“It was a good game, no pressure, useful for working on our structures and nice to give a lot of the young guys a taste of senior international hockey,” said Ewing of the outing against Canada.
The head of hockey at University of Johannesburg said SA, who will be captained in the summer series by the experienced Rhett Halkett, played a lot of good forward ball, while the team’s press was organised, apart from the two slip-ups that led to Canada’s goals.
“Overall the team’s enthusiasm was high, but we need to look at our marking discipline as well as making more of our attacking opportunities,” said Ewing, who added that SA counter-attacked quite well.
“We started using our speed, which is a strength of this group. Our experienced guys played well and it was impressive how they helped the new players through the process.”
Belgium meet Spain at 6pm Monday.
Tickets cost R10 for children aged 10 to 18 and R40 for adults. Gates open one hour before the first match.