SA hockey men rue concentration lapse

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Lisburn, Northern Ireland – South Africa got too comfortable, according to striker Lloyd Norris-Jones, as they were pushed all the way in their final Celtic Cup hockey match against Scotland in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, on Sunday.

The South Africans came out firing in the first period, and led 4-1 at the break, after beating Wales the day before.

Their momentum, however, was stifled after half-time, grinding out a 6-5 win over a Scottish side that came alive after the interval.

“We came out in the second half with a bit of a different attitude,” Norris-Jones, who scored a brace, admitted after the match.

“We moved the ball very well in the first half and took a lot of positives, but then we just got too comfortable.”

Thornton McDade opened the scoring before Ian Haley bagged two goals in two minutes to give the South Africans a valuable lead heading towards the end of the half, with Norris-Jones firing in his first shortly before Scotland pulled one back.

The Scots scored through defender Dan Coultas, who bagged all five goals for his side, all from set-pieces.

Norris-Jones said the team had regrouped in an effort to discover where they went wrong.

“We have taken a long, hard look at what has happened and guys will be looking at the video (analysis) but we gave away too many soft penalty corners,” the striker said.

The South Africans had fallen prey to a few dubious umpiring decisions, Norris-Jones felt, with the officials awarding three penalty strokes in the match, one of which South African Andrew Cronje tucked away for his side's sixth goal.

“To be honest, I don't think both of them (two penalty strokes awarded to Scotland) were penalty strokes,” Norris-Jones said.

“One of the strokes was our ball already and then he changed his decision and gave our goalkeeper a yellow card. I don't know where you get those rules from.”

South Africa arrived in Dublin, Ireland, late Sunday afternoon where they play two Tests – against Ireland and Belgium – on Tuesday and Wednesday, before flying to Santander, Spain, on Friday for three Tests.

Meanwhile, in Lisburn, Ireland drew their last Celtic Cup match against Wales to walk away winners of the tournament, going unbeaten from their three games and finishing a point ahead of South Africa.

*Sapa's reporter is on tour as a guest of the SA Hockey Association. – Sapa

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