South Africa was in the driving seat at the beginning of the last match of Pool D, needing only to avoid losing to advance to the quarter-finals. The Black Sticks were however decided to try and grab their slim chance but nearly suffered an early set-back when Damian Kimfley missed an incredible opportunity to give the lead to South Africa, receiving the ball in front of the open net and no defender in sight, but somehow missing his deflection.
Play was flowing fast from one end to the other, with New Zealand often creating deep breaches in the South African defense. The African Champions had their best chances on penalty-corners but were denied each time by Ben Smith in explosive form in the Black Sticks goal.
There was plenty of action in the period but neither team had anything to show on the scoreboard for their efforts and the break was reached on a scoreless tie.
Kane Russell gave the advantage to the Black Sticks in the 44th minute with a high drag flick on a penalty-corner and the onus was suddenly on South Africa to urgently score. They came agonizingly close on a penalty-corner that rolled in front of the line before going marginally wide but the New Zealanders were still in control entering the last ten minutes, with the quarter-final prospect looming bigger and bigger.
They could have strengthened their cause on yet another penalty-corner with four minutes to go but it was saved, and the end of match was torrid for both teams and their fans. New Zealand got a late yellow card but hanged on desperately to their one-goal lead to jump into second place of the group, leaving the South Africans rueing their missed opportunities earlier in the match.