SA Show heart in improved defensive display

The third match of the Greenfields Indoor Series started much like a blind date, in that it was incredibly apprehensive compared to the opening two games. The South Africans demanded a better defensive display, the All Stars demanded much of the same and the crowd demanded more entertainment and prizes from Princess Hockey.

What would be a recurring theme for the night would be the South African heart in defence that would see the ball cleared off the line an absurd 8 times by one of the defenders. It was Jethro Eustice who did it first as he denied Moritz Furste a 12th series goal.

Benni Wess, who surely could become an Olympian in 100m sprints, then found space down the right hand side, rounded Matthew Becker and laid it off for Furste to get that 12th goal that had been denied by Eustice. South Africa for the first time this series had not turned up the heat to start a game and quickly found themselves under siege from the All Stars, but defended as valiantly as a Liverpool supporter defending their lack of Premier League titles.

The extraordinary German trio of Benni, Timo Wess and Furste were combining outstandingly well with Robert Tigges and the All Stars looked like a team who were destined to win. A third goal-line save by SA led to a slightly debateable penalty corner. There was however, no debate in the goal as Moritz Furste fired it home. The likeable German made it a third hat-trick of the series when Namibian Brynn Cleak, having a great game, set him up for his easiest of the night.

At this stage it was a little bit like a game of piggy in the middle that you played with your older brother and little sister, where she was constantly in the middle and you kept the ball away from her. On a side note my sister is now a speech therapist and changing the world, I believe it was down to the upbringing she had at home.

There were some great saves from Becker denying Austin Smith and Teun Rohof, but Brynn Cleak would get one from a penalty corner to make it 4-0 before Benni Wess, who would genuinely put the energizer bunny to shame, went tumbling into the goal knocking it over, but Cyril was quickly on hand to make sure everything was okay.

South Africa would pull a goal back through an astonishing individual bit of skill from Jarryd Jones, the kind of skill that delighted the crowd. After more goal line saves, this time from Mo Mea, Rusten Abrahams, who played in the PSi last year for the Gryphons, chipped Laurens Goedegebuure but it was too high for the goal. The youngster is a true illustration to many of the kids present about what you can achieve if you work hard.

On the verge of half time we heard MC and ex-head coach of the All Stars John McInroy comically praise Benni Wess as he lost the ball. “It’s a real pleasure to watch Benni Wess in action, just not that time.” There was time for Brynn Cleak to get his second of the night before half-time and leave it at 5-1.

Everyone’s favourite PSi Ambassador Robert Tigges got on the scoresheet early in the second half. Tigges, I know you read these, so if you live in SA for five years you can represent us at the 2021 Indoor world Cup. #JustSaying. The crowd would understandably love that.

Reza Rosenberg has taken to the SA Indoor team incredibly well, showing incredibly quick hands and a form that would not be out of place in the All Stars side, he set up Robin Jones but Laurens made a great pad save to keep the gap at 5 goals. The 7th for the All Stars was coming and you have to watch it in the highlights video later. After keeping the ball at the back for a while Timo Wess passed through to Dutch World cup winner Sjoerd de Wert, who passed it to Tigges before unselfishly setting up Furste for his fourth on the night. Tigges would himself get a second through what can only be described as champagne hockey from a penalty corner.

The two teams traded chances through Austin Smith, Reza Rosenberg, Rusten Abrahams, Teun Rohof and Brynn Cleak as the game started slowing to its conclusion. But there was time for an absolute bullet of a corner from skipper Matt Fairweather gave SA a consolation goal. As SA grew in confidence towards the end of the game there were narrow misses for Jarryd Jones and Jethro Eustice, but there was time for a final goal for Mo Furste which Mo Mea almost kept out but the Momentum of the Moment was Moving. #MoLife

The game ended with a remarkable series of Teun Rohof shots being saved by Mo Mea on the line from three successive penalty corners and it ended at 9-2 in favour of the All Stars, who in turn had sealed the series 3-0 ahead of the final game at UCT tonight.

“It’s been an amazing experience so far, there is a great atmosphere here and it’s been incredible.” Said Olympic gold medallist Timo Wess “The vibe here is absolutely extraordinary and it’s amazing”

“Each PSi experience gets better” crowd favourite Teun Rohof “I have been really impressed with Brandon James and Keenan Horne in previous series and Reza Rosenberg in this one. There is some great young talent in South Africa”

“It felt like we were chasing the whole game and that makes it difficult to control the game when you are so far behind” South African defender Robin Jones “we were better on the defence today but we need to believe in our abilities to get a result”

“These guys are loving being out there” said MC John McInroy of the All Stars “They are legends of the game and it’s a privilege to watch these guys. It is the indoor hockey equivalent of watching Neymar, Mess and Ronaldo. They are a great advert for the game! Long live PSi!”

Tonight is the final match at UCT. It starts at 19:00 and entrance is free.

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