Pic: James Tindall.
JAMES Tindall scored the winner as England cruised to the semi-finals of the Commonwealth Games men’s hockey with a 2-1 win against South Africa here on Sunday.
England finished their Pool B engagements with 10 points from four matches while South Africa remained on six after going down to their second defeat in the tournament.
In the semis, Jason Lee’s men will meet the winner of the India-Pakistan tie set for later Sunday.
England owed their win to Tindall, who had scored a hat-trick in the team’s 5-3 win over New Zealand on Saturday.
The ace striker struck the all-important goal four minutes from the final hooter after midfielder Taine Paton levelled the scores in the 45th minute of the tie played under the mid-day sun at the Major Dhyan Chand stadium.
England, the world number four, went into the lead as early as the eighth minute with mid-fielder Ashley Jackson scoring a field goal.
England’s best finish in the Commonwealth Games came in 1998 in Kuala Lumpur where they bagged a bronze.
Tindall said the players were tired and had to fight hard for the win.
“Playing four games in five days in this heat is very tough,” said the 27-year-old. “Playing a sport in this kind of weather is one of the biggest challenges.
“The South Africans pressed hard and made scoring difficult for us. But we are among the top five teams in the world and we want to start winning these kind of tournaments. So winning today’s game was very important.” South Africa, ranked number 12 in the world, will now play classification matches for the 5th-6th places.
South African captain Austin Smith said the team came under pressure after conceding an early goal.
“We were not looking to be down 1-0 so early,” he said. “We should not have conceded that goal. It put us under a lot of pressure. Tindall’s strike was a big blow for us.
“There were some technical errors. The long ball from the back wasn’t trapped. We didn’t take advantage of our chances, and we missed a lot.”