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SA go down to Argentina in fiery affair

The South Africa men’s hockey team lost 3-2 to South American champions Argentina in an explosive third Test match at Queensmead in Durban Saturday after the score was 1-1 at half-time, reports Jon Cook.

The win gives world No11 Argentina an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the five-Test series in KwaZulu-Natal, but the African champions made them work very hard for victory.

The clash was marred by a remarkable 10 players being sent to the sin bin ÔÇô six Argentineans and four South Africans. Five players were banished to the bin in one particularly tempestuous 10-minute period during the second half.

Having lost the first Test 4-2 and the second Test 1-0, captain Rhett Halkett, head coach Charlie Pereira and the SA lads, ranked 12th in the world, were determined to pull one back and opened the scoring in the 20th minute through an Argentine own goal.

Captain Lucas Rey equalised from a penalty corner four minutes before half-time (31st) and his side went 2-1 up through a Facundo Callioni field goal 13 minutes from the end (57th) during a period when the musical chairs in the sin bin got particularly busy.

In yesterday’s action, Gowan Jones saves from Argentina’s Lucas Rossi as team-mate Jonty Robinson looks on during the South Africa goalkeeper’s man-of-the-match performance.

Five minutes later (62nd) Argentina established a two-goal cushion when Juan Ignacio Gilardi converted from the penalty spot. SA striker Craig Haley pulled one back after a penalty corner three minutes from full-time (67th) but the South Americans had done enough for a series-clinching 3-2 third Test win.

The SA side, missing regular captain Austin Smith and other starting line-up players in this series, might be 3-0 down with two to play but Halkett has always said that the five Test matches were about improving game by game ÔÇô and the general indications are that Pereira’s lads, a host of whom are untried at this level, appear to be doing just that.

The fourth Test is on the Queensmead Hockey Stadium turf at 3pm Monday with the fifth and final Test match at the University of KZN Pietermaritzburg campus at 6.30pm Tuesday.

UKZN Pietermaritzburg’s turf in the Peter Booysen Sports Park will be the third club venue to see a Test match for the first time, the others being Riverside hockey club in Durban North (first Test) and at Kearsney College hockey club (second Test) on the school campus in Hillcrest.

Meanwhile, in a rare coincidence, South Africa Under-21 played Argentina U21 in the play-off for 11th and 12th places at the men’s Junior World Cup in Delhi at the same time as Saturday’s Queensmead clash, and once again it was success for the South Americans, to the tune of 4-1.

Picture: Terry Lewis

SA/ARGENTINA KZN SERIES RESULTS/FIXTURES
1st Test ÔÇô Argentina 4 South Africa 2; 2nd Test ÔÇô Argentina 1 South Africa 0; 3rd Test ÔÇô Argentina 3 South Africa 2; 4th Test ÔÇô Monday, December 16 (Queensmead┬á3pm); 5th Test ÔÇô Tuesday, December 17 (UKZN Pietermaritzburg campus 6.30pm).


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