Dutch put five past SA

It was a 5-0 scoreline in the one-off men’s hockey Test between world number 12 South Africa and world number two Holland in the Cape Town Summer Series at a festive Hartleyvale Tuesday, the Dutch running out winners after leading 2-0 at half-time.

Head coach Fabian Gregory’s lads created a number of very good goalscoring opportunities but had nothing tangible on the scoreboard to show for them.
SA retained nine men for this match who played against Austria in Durban just over a week ago. Both sides have five senior players plying their trade in the lucrative Hockey India League.

The rest of the Dutch team are first-choice, while the SA selectors are spreading the net wide as they look to find the ideal 18 players for the World League Round 2 tournament at Hartleyvale from March 7 to 15. This was borne out by the fact that London 2012 and World Cup and Commonwealth Games 2014 midfielder Wade Paton was watching from the grandstand.

The Dutch started well, controlling the ball and moving it all over the park with precision, going 1-0 up in the sixth minute when Glenn Schuurman stole around the right baseline to set up a simple tap-in for Valentin Verga.

Three efforts from the edge of the strike zone plus a penalty corner in the first of the four 15-minute chukkas that make up a modern hockey Test match further underlined head coach Max Caldas’s team’s upper hand.

There were some excellent defensive skills shown the South Africans in this match – Clint Panther’s, Dan Sibbald’s and Daniel Bell’s among them – but the vision and precise play of Holland was going to unlock doors one way or the other.

In the 24th Hofman made the pressure tell when he swept a loose ball firmly into the back board (2-0).

On the cusp of half-time, muscular midfielder Panther drove powerfully towards the strike zone and was brought down heavily but Bell’s PC drag-flick ricocheted off the first wave defender’s stick.

Three minutes into the third quarter (33rd) Holland established a three-goal cushion through Roel Bovendeert’s neat skills (3-0). SA had an excellent chance in the 36th but Sibbald’s effort was well saved by on-form keeper Sam van der Ven.

Pressing forward with intent, Dylan Swanepoel got in a shot but as the third quarter wound down (45th minute) Holland put together a fluid movement down the right and Thierry Brinkman delivered the far-post touch (4-0).

Bell pulled a certain goal off the line in the 48th and SA broke away to win a PC, the variation seeing Shannon Boucher’s drag-flick blocked by Van der Ven. Two more PC’s followed but the Dutch keeper had their measure, before a spectacular Sibbald backhand flew just wide.

The inability to convert was rubbed in when Holland broke down the right flank in the 55th for Constantijn Jonker to finish off (5-0).

A minute later, yet another South African PC came to nothing, before Natius Malgraff fired on the turn, the ball hitting the crossbar, Taine Paton agonisingly close to profiting from the rebound.

The Investec SA women’s hockey team’s first Test of the CT Summer Series is against Chile at 7pm Thursday. The SA men’s next Test match is at 4pm Sunday against Ireland.

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