The South African Men and United States of America Men locked horns for the second test at a capacity crowd filled Ashton College in Ballito this afternoon. The African Champions held the 1-0 lead in the series after winning the opening game 4-2.
The South Africans started well creating regular opportunities but the likes of Dayaan Cassiem, Nic Spooner, Tevin Kok and Bili Ntuli were all denied by poor finishing, good goalkeeping or a combination of both. The South Africans were, however, fully in control of the game much to the partisan crowd’s pleasure.
That pressure finally told, and the hosts got the deserved lead through Taine Paton playing in his 113th test for his country took advantage of wonderful forward defensive work by his team-mates and emerged into the D with a superb diving finish. It was the goal the South Africans had deserved and although USA had made them work for it, the score was completely fair.
There were a couple of penalty corners kept out before the half time break but at 1-0 up coach Garreth Ewing would have been both happy and frustrated with the lack of killer instinct. His team emerged in the second half with the even more intensity than in the first and they should very much have gone 2-0 up sooner than when skipper Keenan Horne finished off his opportunity after good work around the D.
Once again though the South Africans allowed the Americans back into the game with two green cards and USA finally converted a third PC attempt Aki Kaeppeler. With the score back at 2-1 the South Africans showed no signs of panic and started playing the game more and more in the USA half.
They should have added to the tally with some great opportunities in the final ten minutes, but with the penalty corners not working on the day and some good opportunities squandered they had to settle for a 2-1 win and a 2-0 lead in the series.
The third test takes place at the same venue at 17:00 on Tuesday before the series is wrapped up on Wednesday morning. For the South Africans the attention will then turn to the 6th ranked Germans who will take them on in four tests in Johannesburg.
Picture – Raw Shuga Photograhpy – Not for Commercial Reuse