Ireland 2 South Africa 0

The Green Machine got their Hockey World League campaign off to a winning start against hosts South Africa in front of a packed crowd in Johannesburg.

Ireland played a patient game in the opening exchanges as they were controlled in their build up and content to wait for the gaps to appear in the South African defence.

They were somewhat gifted their opening goal in the tenth minute when a mistrap from Rhett Halkett saw the ball fall to Matthew Nelson, who thumped it goalward.

Ireland were relentless in punishing any error by South Africa and Neal Glassey nearly made it 2-0 as he found himself bearing down on goal but Rassie Pieterse did well to smother the shot.

The hosts grew into the game towards the end of the half and Ignatius Malgraff used his pace to create some chances, but three penalty corners went amiss before the half time whistle sounded.

South Africa seemed to grow in confidence from their increase in circle penetrations and drew some good saves from David Harte, with John Jackson showing all his experience to clear up any trouble.

Penalty corner four and five came and went for the hosts, and while their chances kept coming they simply weren’t accurate enough in the circle.

Shane O’Donoghue’s drag flick goal in the after 46 minutes appeared to completely take the wind from South Africa’s sails and any further real chances were few and far between.

The statistics paint the fixture as inseparably close with South Africa holding 51 per cent of possession and only two less circle entries than the Green Machine, but the men in green proved clinical in front of goal and that was enough to seal their opening victory.

Afterwards goal scorer Shane O’Donoghue said: "One-nil is always a very dangerous scoreline so it was important to get that second goal. The atmosphere was great today and we’re really pleased with the win".

The Green Machine are next in action on Tuesday against Belgium at 5.0pm Irish time.

Ireland women’s hockey team continue their World League campaign on Monday at 1.0pm Irish time against Germany.

Ireland: D Harte, J Jackson, J Bell, C Cargo, A Sothern, E Magee, S O’Donoghue, S Murray, J McKee, P Gleghorne, S Loughrey

Subs: J Carr, M Bell, M Nelson, N Glassey, C Harte, J Duncan, S Cole

South Africa: J Robinson, A Smith, T Drummond, J Hykes, O Mvimbi, M Guise-Brown, T Halkett, D Cassiem, J Eustice, T Pieterse, I Malgraff

Subs: R Rosenberg, D Sibbald, R Julius, T Kok, D Bell, N Ntuli, R Curtis