South Africa leads early and dominates late in Test
POLOCROSSE: You can't say a sporting match is won in the first five minutes but four early goals by South Africa set the tone for a 31-21 victory against Australia in the First Test for the men at Morgan Park on Thursday night.
After a convincing win by the women in the previous game, Australia may have looked like favourites but the Steenkamp brothers, Jannie and Retief, and Attie Van Wyk had other ideas in the first chukka.
Van Wyk had four goals on the board before Lance Anderson goaled for Australia.
It was 4-2 to South Africa at the end of the first chukka and the margin was the same at the end of the second chukka with the visitors up 7-5.
Trent Mortimer shot two angled goals for the Aussies in the second chukka but it was a downfield throw of more than 50 metres by Travis Timm that stood out for some in the crowd.
Attie Van Wyk was using the overhead throw close to goal for South Africa and finished the third with two overhead throws for a 10-7 lead.
Debutante BJ Thomas goaled for Australia with one of the highest goals of the night to make it 11-all at the end of the fourth chukka.
Mortimer goaled for a one-goal lead early in the fifth but that was the last time the Aussies could feel any confidence.
Stefan Harris shot well in the fifth for a two-goal South Africa lead following in the footsteps of his father Henry who played in the first World Cup at Morgan Park in 2003.
The polocrosse from South Africa just got better with No.1 Graham MacLarty showing many of the skills which won him men's player of the tournament at the 2015 World Cup.
Late in the game, there was some outstanding defence from Australian debutante Tom O'Neill which had the crowd involved as much as at any time during the match.
Timm won man of the match and admitted if his team was going to win, he wasn't expecting a 10-goal margin.
"The Aussies will come back firing on Friday night,” Timm said.
"It was a good game, our team pulled well together. For most of the team, it was their first games under lights.”
One factor that did stand out in both Tests was the games were seven against seven.
Both countries in the men's and women's Tests were quick to bring the player on who missed out in the first two chukkas.
With the pace so intense and the game over eight six-minute chukkas, making regular changes to the teams enabled the coaches to have some fresher horses and players at their disposal.
The men's Test is the first on Friday night at 6pm and follows a full day of Barastoc Interstate Series action.