On the backdrop of a fantastic day of hockey at the PSi Junior Nationals, the South African Indoor side alongside the Greenfields International All Stars lined up for the series decided in front of a full UCT.
The All Stars, who were stunned in the second game, started with their strongest line up including all four Dutch World Cup winners, South African superstar Austin Smith and the impressive Brynn Cleak from Namibia. The All Stars were simply mesmerising from the start and when South Africa did find themselves with opportunities early on they met Laurens Goedegebuure in imperious form.
The All Stars opened the scoring through a sensational quick penalty corner that moved from Leijs to Tigges to Rohof to Cleak before Robert Tigges fired past Richard Curtis. The second goal was far simpler, but just as effective, as Tigges showed why he is one of the most feared indoor hockey players in the World.
It was then the turn of Tendayi Maredza, arguably Zimbabwe’s greatest ever indoor player, to finish a goal created by World Cup Champion Teun Rohof who was bringing his top game. It was a siege on the South African goal and the All Stars were on fire.
Eventually with a couple of minutes before half time Brandon James did the hard work and Geoff Abbott turned it in to finally beat the Dutch shot stopper. Brandon, who has given coach Pierre le Roux some tough decisions to make, then pulled another back, much to the delight of the watching Gauteng Gryphons. 3-2 at Half-time and the South African side had managed to pull themselves back in to the game.
But the second half saw the All Stars again raise the intensity showing that South Africa, although making healthy strides in indoor hockey, still have some work to do. First some of the silkiest hockey you will see by Tigges hit the post allowing Namibian Siyabonga Martins to tap in, before Brynn Cleak, who will represent UJ at USSA this week, made it 5-2 and laid it off for Tendayi Maredza to score his second of the game. Tigges himself wanted to be part of the brutal 10 minute spell and completed his hat-trick with a deft finish from open play.
South Africa once again set about a comeback with Robyn Jones, who had been struggling with flu, netting after good work at a penalty corner. But, before the SA team had any hope, Teun Rohof, who had played the full 40 minutes, out ran the SA defenders to tap into an empty net. It was nothing short of what his play deserved.
Craig Haley, to the delight of the South African crowd, popped up with the late consolation for South Africa, although there was still time for Matthew Becker to save one with his helmet and the full time whistled sounded to end the Greenfields Indoor Series. The International All Stars had triumphed 2-1 in the series and 8-4 in the match.
The South African team will be happy with the opportunity they have had to play against some of the best in the World and expose more players to their vision and squad as we build to 2018. Having had some positive chats with Pierre le Roux this week I can clearly see that the vision is there and with the backing of PSi Hockey you can only have positive thoughts for the growth of indoor hockey in South Africa.
The All Stars will be back in December with rumours of their strongest team ever to once again test the SA Indoor men and obviously to enjoy our beautiful country. The celebration of indoor hockey continues.
This article was written for Pro Series Indoor (PSi) as part of the Junior Nationals festival. Check out www.psihockey.co.za for all the results, stats and more! All images are courtesy of the PSi Facebook page.