At University of Birmingham: New Zealand 3 (Sam Lane, Jake Smith, Hugo Inglis) South Africa 4 (2 Matthew Guise-Brown, Keenan Horne, Connor Beauchamp). Q1: 1-2 HT: 1-3, Q3: 2-3
The men’s Black Sticks team have failed to make the semifinals at the Commonwealth Games, losing 4-3 to South Africa in their final pool game.
New Zealand needed a draw and Australia not to lose to Pakistan to qualify for the semifinals and play India.
When Hugo Inglis scored for New Zealand early in the final quarter it looked like the job was done, despite trailing for most of the match.
However, South Africa were able to score again, knocking the Black Sticks out and it will be them who advances out of Pool A, as Australia thrashed Pakistan 7-0 in the final round robin match.
It was a contest where New Zealand were constantly chasing the game and really, South Africa deserved this win.
In the third minute South Africa were awarded a penalty corner and from it Matthew Guise-Brown drove the ball into the left corner, out of the reach of New Zealand goal keeper Leon Hayward.
A second goal for South Africa came a few minutes later. Hayward was unable to clear a long-range shot, pushing the ball towards Keenan Horne, who reacted quickly to put the ball away.
It was already desperation time for New Zealand, but they got back in contention when Sam Lane scored from a penalty corner in the eighth minute.
However, South Africa again doubled their lead with Guise-Brown’s second goal from a penalty corner three minutes into the second quarter.
Hayward produced a superb save from a Ryan Julius shot midway through the quarter and in the last minute of the half he did it again as Nqobile Ntuli ran through on goal untouched.
Those two saves kept New Zealand in the contest, but the Black Sticks still had a mountain to climb in the second half.
The South African defence was solid for most of the third quarter, with New Zealand struggling to penetrate it. However with six minutes in the period to go, Leneal Jackson lost the ball without any pressure on him, Inglis seized on the loose ball and passed inside to Jake Smith for the goal.
So going into the final quarter, New Zealand were one goal away from almost certainly reaching the semifinals.
Just 90 seconds into it Inglis deflected the ball in from a penalty corner and the comeback was near complete.
South Africa’s Ryan Julius missed an open goal with nine minutes to go. It was a warning this game wasn’t over and that proved to be the case when Connor Beauchamp put his country back in front two minutes later.
New Zealand responded by taking off their goalkeeper, to have an extra player upfield.
As the seconds ticked away, desperation from the New Zealand players increased and a penalty corner was fluffed.
No other scoring opportunities came the Black Sticks’ way, ending their Commonwealth Games campaign in disappointing fashion.