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London – The South African men's hockey team ended their Olympic campaign on a high after beating India 2-1 in the teams' 11th/12th playoff classification match at the Riverbank Arena in London on Saturday.
The win sees them finish 11th overall, lifting themselves off the bottom of the pecking order and restoring some pride in the national side as they defeated India for the first time in a major international tournament.
SA suffered a poor campaign, after finishing with a single point, after playing to a 2-2 draw with Great Britain in their second match of pool A, but losing four fixtures in their pool.
The South Africans opened the scoring through Andrew Cronje seven minutes into the tie, after the veteran defender put the ball into the net following a goal-mouth scuffle.
India hit back soon after, as Sandeep Singh scored from a penalty corner (PC), beating South African goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse with a rocketed effort.
The match seemed destined to stay level going into the half-time break, but a superb effort from Timothy Drummond saw the South African take the lead with two minutes to the half-time siren.
The second period started slowly, but not without action as Pieterse made a number of breath-taking saves to keep his side in the lead.
After a solid first half where he was unlucky not to score, SA striker Lloyd Norris-Jones stretched his team's lead to two, as he slotted home past Indian keeper Sreejesh Parattu Raveendran.
India once again hit back straight away, with Dharamvir Singh putting India back into the game after he beat Pieterse to claw one back to 3-2.
Singh had the final say, as the scores remained the same following a nervy final five minutes where SA had to keep their heads to see out the clash. – Sapa