The Garreth Ewing Era of South African Hockey got off to a winning start as the hosts defeated their African neighbours 4-0 at Randburg Astro on Monday night. The South African side marked several changes from the Hockey Series Final squad due to availability including Rassie Pieterse taking the captains armband and Sam Mvimibi earning his first cap for South Africa.
Iconically this was the first ever test series between South Africa and Namibia, having only met at African Cup competitions before this. It’s a great follow up to the statements made by Garreth after being appointed coach in his conversations with the Hockey 24 Seven podcast regarding playing more test matches against Southern African opposition.
South Africa started well on a cool evening in Johannesburg and Owen Mvimbi, playing in his 33rd match for the country, took advantage of a defensive error to strike with a superb tomahawk into the bottom right corner. They made it 2-0 just before the end of chukka as Bili Ntuli superbly stole in and finished superbly passed DJ Strauss.
South Africa had a significant amount of possession and were managing the Namibian counter well. They were also creating moments of danger in attack without making Strauss make too many saves disappointingly. They did get a third before half time, when Ryan Julius, back from a good club season in Europe, created an easy finish for Ntuli to get his brace.
Keenan Horne, South Africa’s vice-captain on the night, made it 4-0 in the 37th minute and perhaps surprisingly that’s where the scoring ended. Richard Pautz, Tyson Dlungwana, Jethro Eustice and Tevin Kok all created big opportunities but were denied by a wonderful display from the Namibian rear-guard.
The result was a pleasing result for Springs and his team, with a happiness with how the experienced players performed, while the young stars given an opportunity where highly impressive with the likes of Tevin Kok, Sam Mvimbi and Andrew Hobson all impressing at different times.
The second test match will take place at 19:00 on Tuesday night at Randburg Astro before the series completes on Thursday at the same time. All matches will be streamed live on the Shoott South Africa Facebook page.