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Aussies on top in Durban

Australia came up tops in the SPAR Cup women’s hockey tournament in Durban on Saturday, the girls from Down Under beating Argentina 3-1 in the final.

Earlier, in the third/fourth place playoff, South Africa watched as India fought back from a 4-0 half-time deficit to draw 5-5 at full-time but the home side took the penalty stroke shootout 5-3 after the scores were still deadlocked after 15 minutes’ extra-time.

Back to the final though and it was Argentinean Leonas who scored first, Silvina D’Elia slamming in a penalty corner that followed a brilliant 50-metre move between Carla Rebecchi, Alejandra Gulla and Soledad Garcia with five minutes to half-time.

The remarkable second-half Aussie turnaround was due to nothing particularly startling according to coach Frank Murray – just a case of working harder and smarter. “On attack we were able to get through their midfield and into their defence,” the Olympic Games gold medal winner said.

The Hockeyroos equalised three minutes after the changeover through a penalty corner slip pass to pusher Casey Eastham, scored an action goal via the pacy Emily Hurtz and made it safe eight minutes from the end with a Kate Hollywood deflection from another PC.

“Argentina have more speed and flair than us at the moment, but it is more than just speed and technical skill that wins matches, and our players continue to develop their hockey knowledge,” Murray said.

The SA/India bronze medal match saw coach Jenny King’s 12th ranked South African team dominate the 14th-ranked sub-continental side in the first half (4-0) before an amazing fightback saw India win the second half 5-1 in what turned into a 5-5 draw.

The penalty stroke shootout was something of an anti-climax as the injured Indian keeper was unable to take part and an “out” player had to stand in
for her.

“Credit to India, but we had run ourselves into the ground against Australia on Friday [that decided the second finalist after Argentina had already gone through] and I knew the second half would be tough,” said King.

SA: Farah Fredericks 2, Kathleen Taylor 2, Marsha Marescia
India: Saba Anjum 2, Rani Rampal, Vandana Katariya, Surinder Kaur


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