LISBURN, Northern Ireland – The South African men's hockey side beat Wales 5-0 in a one-sided affair at the Lisnagarvey Hockey Club in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, on Saturday.
The tourists were without captain Austin Smith and Jonty Robinson, who remained at the team's hotel and were rested after picking up flu.
Having lost their Celtic Cup opener to hosts Ireland, the South Africans put in a much improved effort against the Welsh to earn a well-deserved win.
South Africa opened the scoring 13 minutes into the game after a pinpoint pass from stand-in captain Wade Paton found Julian Hykes lurking in the Wales area. Hykes deflected the ball in for his first strike of the afternoon.
The South Africans never looked troubled, dominating possession and territory throughout the first half.
The sustained pressure resulted in their second penalty corner (PC) of the afternoon, 10 minutes before the break, which Paton slotted past Welsh goalkeeper Iwan Williams for their second goal.
South Africa then turned up the heat on their opponents and soon after Julian Hykes found himself in front of an open goal after a superb passage of play from forward Thornton McDade found Hykes waiting in the centre of the area as the latter secured his brace.
Leading 3-0, the South Africans kept pressing for more goals and scored again a minute before the break, courtesy of another well-drilled PC routine.
Specialist PC taker Justin Reid-Ross found the backboard with a low drive to the bottom left corner, leaving Williams with no chance to round off a determined looking effort.
South Africa continued to dominate possession in the second half, much to the frustration of the Welsh outfit, who looked to disrupt their opponents' momentum with dangerous play.
The first action of the second period came in the 55th minute when SA were awarded yet another PC which was saved by Williams off a rocketing shot by Reid-Ross.
Five minutes later, SA bagged their only goal of the second period with Andrew Cronje adding his name to the scoresheet from the team's sixth PC of the match.
While the South Africans camped out in the Welsh half, goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse rarely looked troubled as he celebrated his 50th cap with a clean sheet, making two superb second-half saves to keep his side ahead. – Sapa