An entertaining end to an entertaining series

Photo – Kent Locke

They say that all good things must come to an end and that was the case when the Tsogo Sun International All Stars and the South African Indoor Hockey Men took to the field for their final match of the Greenfields SA Indoor Series. Once again UCT produced a full house to spur the two brilliant teams on for one last occasion.

If the third game had a slow start to it, this had a blitzkrieg start to it as within 22 seconds Moritz Furste had put away the game’s opening goal after a defensive error by the South Africans. Matt Fairweather, the South African skipper, would then fire in a bullet that would have been pulled over for speeding by the local metro police, but it was off target.

Laurens Goedegebuure in the goal for the All Stars produced his most convincing display of the series with a collection of saves tonight underlining his class. He denied Jethro Eustice, Jarryd Jones, Rusten Abrahams and Reza Rosenberg on a regular occurrence.

The All Stars were not without their own chances and after good chances for Robert Tigges and Benni Wess were not converted, the All Stars employed the slip at penalty corner time for Furste to net goal number 18 of the series. South Africa were less apprehensive of the star power playing against them and were standing up in the physical battle immensely with Robin Jones leading the charge with some great strength. But for all of the intensity they were able to bring they soon found themselves 3-0 down as SA outdoor legend set up Benni Wess who scored with a bullet.

Photo – Kent Locke

Before half time the crowd hero Moritz Furste was able to complete his fourth hat-trick in the four games after Timo Wess and Robert Tigges combined expertly. The German craft and Tigges technical ability is a real joy to watch. 4-0 was the half time score, but every question asked by the South Africans was being answered by the All Stars like that girl that sat in the front row of my university lectures. I didn’t like it but I had to respect her ability. That was actually a pretty good metaphor, it’s a pleasure.

South Africa employed a counter attacking approach more effectively in the second half but when you are up against Benni Wess you need a 2 hour head start and he might still catch you. As the SA boys broke, the German would scupper any opportunity with a late tackle or deflection. The engine on Wess is incredible and will make many wonder how much of a difference he could have made for Germany at the Rio Olympics. He did make a difference on the field as he netted one into the roof of the goal to make it 5-0 early in the second half.

Timo Wess has been incredible to watch in this series. He is less flashy than his compatriot and his brother, but his on field leadership is immense. When I asked who is the better hockey player he quickly replied its Benni, once more showing the humility of the family man, playing in front of his wife and daughter. To cap off his immense performance he got on the scoresheet to make it 6-0 to the All Stars.

Austin Smith, who is a credit to South African hockey with his behaviour with fans outside of game time, has self-proclaimed that he would need to sit on the bench a fair bit in this squad. But the South African is befitting of his title as an All Star and underlined this with some world class defence and movement that stopped yet another South African break away.

South Africa, possibly inspired by the come from behind victory of the SA U21 men at the World Cup today, then brought on a spirit so often associated with South African sport. They started playing with a freedom that almost said ‘Hey, I deserve to be on this pitch’. Jarryd Jones, Reza Rosenberg and Jethro Eustice, in my opinion South Africa’s most talented indoor hockey player, led this fight back. Jarryd showed why he was an incredibly highly rated youngster as he set up Jethro Eustice and then Reza Rosenberg for two goals. The Rosenberg goal assist was something that Houdini would have been proud of as Jones created space in a wall of defence to skim through. Robert Tigges would score two more and appropriately get the last goal for the All Stars in the series from an acute angle. The Dutch captain is a true ambassador of the game and is well loved here at PSi.

There was time for Reza Rosenberg to set up Jethro Eustice for the final goal of the game and the series before the umpires ended the game and the series. 8-3 to the All Stars in an all-conquering series.

“I really love it here, it’s a perfect mix of fun and celebrating and progressing the game of Indoor hockey” said 2012 world player of the year Moritz Furste “I think from what I have seen the kids love the game and I have been impressed with the skill level”

“It’s my second time here and it’s been brilliant. It’s been a great show and it’s so special to be here” said Nicki Leijs “The German guys are the best hockey players in the world and to be on the same team as them has been absolutely special!”

“Every time I am at PSi, its bigger it’s better and its louder” shared the All Stars captain Robert Tigges “we also brought a truly world class All Stars side and it’s been fantastic to play alongside one another. It’s also been great to see South Africa improving a little bit more each time and they need to believe that they can challenge in the future!”

“It’s another awesome event and it’s been incredible development and learning for us towards the World Cup” said Matt Fairweather “we have a better idea of what we need to work on and we will go from strength to strength!”

Moritz Furste was the top scorer in the series with 19 goals, but I have gone one step further and picked my player of the series from each side.

For the All Stars obvious consideration has to go to Furste and Tigges, but this time around I have picked Benni Wess. It is an immense privilege to watch Benni in action, his ability to read a game is second to none and his unselfish play and work rate are unrivalled on the pitch.

For South Africa I have picked Justin Domleo. The South African defender was the country’s top scorer, but it is his combative nature and skill that gives him my nod. I also was highly impressed with Reza Rosenberg and continue to be impressed by Jethro Eustice whenever he plays.

It was a joy to watch, it was incredible and it was almost unthinkable. More of the same please?

This article was initially written for PSi Hockey and published on their social media and website. All images are credited to PSI Hockey unless otherwise stated. 

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