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South Africa into men's hockey semis

31 July 2002

Underdogs South Africa punish England to book a place in the semi-final against defending champions Australia.

Simon Mason

England's goal keeper Simon Mason

South Africa’s man-of-the-match, Gregg Clark, pounced in the 29th minute to rob Johnson and set up a swift triangular passing move which culminated in Emile Smith slotting home Greg Nicols’ right wing cross.

England had dominated early proceedings and amassed at least 13 attempts on goal in the first half, but the absence of penalty corner specialist David Mathews with a hamstring injury cost them dear.

The Kuala Lumpur bronze medallists and world number seven team had enjoyed some good fortune in the pool stage against Canada, but luck appeared to desert England as early as the 7th minute when they were denied a penalty flick following an apparent South African foot block after Billy Waugh (ENG) shot on goal.

Then in the 21st minute Jon Wyatt (ENG) struck a low penalty corner hit which appeared to brush the pads of South African keeper Chris Hibbert and divert just above the backboard, but the umpire ruled the effort a dead ball.

England tried hard to pull the game out of the fire and pressed hard, though goalkeeper Simon Mason, making his hundredth England appearance, was still kept busy and was relieved to find Greg Nicol slicing a penalty stroke wide.

A jubilant Nicol said: “You have got to be happy with that after the performance against New Zealand. There was just one goal in it. We always knew it was going to be a close affair. We’ve had some close ones against England in the past and today was our lucky day. Any other day it could have gone the other way.”

Info News Service/gd/dm

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