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Friday, 2 August, 2002, 19:24 GMT 20:24 UK

Aussies on course for gold

By Dewi Hughes
BBC Sport Online in Manchester

South Africa 1-3 Australia

Two second-half goals secured Australia a deserved place in the men's hockey final.

Michael McCann and Bevan George added to Matt Smith's first-half strike to settle a largely one-sided semi-final.

Justin King brought South Africa level five minutes before the break, but they lacked the imagination to unsettle a disciplined Australia defence.

"We missed a lot of opportunitiesin the first half"
Australia's Bevan George

The Aussies threatened to open the scoring on several occasions in the opening stages, and it was no great surprise when Smith finally delivered a decisive strike after 12 minutes.

The forward then continually caused the South Africans problems with surging breaks from the left wing.

A desperate goal-line clearance was all that prevented him from doubling his side's advantage a few minutes later.

South Africa's equaliser came as a rather uneventful half came to life in the final minutes.

King's cleanly struck drive from a short corner beat Mark Hickman, who had mostly been a spectator in the Australia goal until that point.

The goalkeeper was again called into action a few minutes later.

But he this time pulled off a stunning reflex save to prevent Greg Nicol from giving his side a rather fortunate first-half lead.


Australia began the second-half as they had the first. Troy Elder twice saw efforts rebound off the bar.

But the Aussies finally re-established their lead in the 47th minute when George struck.

The impressive defender stole possession on the halfway line and forced his way through the South Africa defence to slide the ball into the bottom right-hand corner.

"I didn't know what I was going to do. I don't very often get up there. Thatis only my third goal," said George.

"The goal took a little bit of pressure off. We missed a lot of opportunitiesin the first half and it was starting to build up a little bit.

South Africa pilled on the pressure in the last five minutes in search of an unlikely equaliser.

But McCann made the most of some sloppy defensive play to put the result beyond doubt.

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