On a cool night in Pietermaritzburg the iWYZE International U18 series between South Africa and Australia came to an end on a thrilling note. Heading into the final night the South African girls had already secured the series with two fantastic wins, but the boys series was still in the balance as both games had been tied in electrifying circumstances.
Girls | South Africa 2-0 Australia
Having secured only their first ever victory against Australia in the opening match, South Africa completed their first ever clean sweep as Lenise Marais enhanced her own growing reputation as a coach with a 3-0 series win.
The final game saw the wounded Australians taking on a highly encouraged SA girls side who were being watched by South African U21 coach Robin van Ginkel. The first half was a little bit of a tentative affair with few high-quality chances being created. The lack of intensity due to the series being decided was clear but half-time words seemed to create the urgency that was missing.
South Africa took the lead when Jean-Leigh du Toit, who will be headed to the African Youth Games in Algeria, netted from a penalty corner with the type of finish that you associate with Lisa-Marie Deetlefs for the National team. South Africa confirmed the victory in the 56th minute when the sensational Bianca Woods scored the goal of the series with some scintillating aerial skills to create and finish her chance.
A superb series for the South African Girls and a great statement about the strength of the future of girl’s hockey in South Africa.
SA Girls Team – Mishka Ellis, Jacolene Mclaren, Ammaarah Hendricks (c), Edith Molikoe, Angela Welham, Carienke Jacobs, Kayla de Waal, India Hardie, Thati Zulu, Bianca Wood, Francisca Darkoh, Zimkhita Smayile, Laila Williams, Samantha Smuts, Julia Hoal, Jean-Leigh du Toit & Elita van Staden
Boys | South Africa 3-6 Australia
Australia were strongly favoured for the series but had met a South African boys side who were nothing short of resolute in the opening two games. They took that favoured tag seriously at the start of the series decider, when they gave the superb double fire in the opening 8 minutes. First Ky Willott from a penalty corner before Joshua Brooks scored a field goal.
The superb Cody Posthumus pulled a goal back for South Africa before Australia turned on the class to run away with the game. Kaleb Christensen (29th minute), the outstanding Craig Marais (36th) and Elias Fernandez (38th) all scored from field goals to make it 5-1 and probably settle the game.
But Posthumus, who will be integral for the SA Youth team at the Algerian Youth Games, scored twice in two minutes to score the first hat-trick of the series and to set up a nervous finish. Both goals came from the spot as the umpires punished some poor defending.
As South Africa surged in an attempt to level the series it left opportunities at the back and after winning a penalty corner Australia sealed the victory with a Ky Willott penalty corner. An outstanding 6-3 win for Australia and with it a 1-0 series victory.
The boy’s series produced 23 goals in a scintillating series that really gave the crowd some fantastic exhibition hockey, played at a high intensity with a great spirit and both teams were fantastic.
SA Boys Team – Taine Bird, Suubi Sekawabe, Andre Bradford, Jared Campbell, Mpumelelo Maphumulo, Luke Wynford, Idrees Abdulla, Teven Petersen, Cody Posthumus, Peter Jarvis, Angelo Walstroom, Marvin Simons, Matt Dewar (c), Ivann van der Merwe, Joshua Findlay, Steven Conway, Niel Raath & Sihle Ngcongo