It had been 9 years since a South African hockey side stepped foot onto an Olympic pitch. But that sense of wonder was quickly given a stark return to reality as Sam Ward had opened the scoring with only two minutes on the clock.
The South Africans though fought right back and pulled level through a sublime finish by Matthew Guise-Brown. Although England were dominating the possession, South Africa did grow into the game and looked threatening on the counter-attack with several aerials causing trouble amongst the GB defence, though the side couldn’t conjure another shot on goal in the first half.
In a fantastically fought first half neither side could establish dominance and the teams finished the first half 1-1, with the South Africans answering all questions asked by the favourites.
That needed to continue in the second half but following the same pattern as the first half and an early goal by Liam Ansell found Great Britain back in the lead. It was a lead they would never relinquish but only add to it later on when a Waller strike was diverted in to make it 3-1.
Rassie Pieterse was called into action on a number of occasions but was able to keep it competitive while the yellow cards were disrupting the teams opportunities.
In truth the team had set up with a well structured game plan and had some opportunities, but Great Britain were able to capitalise on their higher ranking and take the three points. For the SA Men its back in action tomorrow against Netherlands, who themselves want to overcome the defeat to Belgium this morning!