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SA lose 3-2 in Spain

South Africa’s first international of their three-week hockey tour of Europe ended in defeat against Spain in Terrassa on Thursday night.

The host side won 3-2 in a match played at the national hockey stadium, roughly 30 minutes outside Barcelona and the match was a rousing affair, writes Jonathan Cook.

Spain were 2-1 up at half-time after a brace from Barbara Malda while Tarryn Bright pulled one back for the Investec SA side on the stroke of half-time. South Africa then drew level through a Dirkie Chamberlain goal soon after the re-start but against the run of play Georgina Oliva bagged the winner for the Spanish.

The cool, cloudy evening saw both sides open with four at the back, and three apiece in midfield and upfront and the first chance came on the quarter hour from a Raquel Huertas overhead from midfield that fell into the circle only for Maialen Garcia to blaze over the crossbar.

SA, with outstanding captain Marsha Marescia prominent in central midfield, began to string a series of telling passes together, but a sublime piece of individual skill at close quarters from Garcia set up Malda after 12 minutes.

Shortly after, the first penalty corner was deflected in by Malda after Spain had initially made a mess of it, and at 2-0 down SA had to find a way back in. The Western Province pair of Bright and Kathleen Taylor engineered SA’s first PC but Lesle-Ann George’s good effort was ultimately blocked.

But just on half-time the tireless Jen Wilson earned SA’s second PC and this time Bright was on hand to bury the rebound ┬áafter Marcelle Keet’s initial shot, for the South Africans to go into the interval a goal behind.

Soon after the changeover SA striker Chamberlain did some great work to draw SA level with a fine piece of field play, robbing a defender of the ball before making the strike at goal.

After their slow start, SA were dominating, leaving Spain pressed in their own half as the girls in green and gold cut down any attempted attacks, but against the run of play Oliva edged the Spanish ahead after a neat one-two.

Pacy SA striker Sulette Damons was making inroads down the left wing and her speculative effort was tipped over the crossbar on the cusp of the last quarter of the match.

With five minutes left to play Kim Hubach earned a PC but Spain survived and go into Thursday’s second Test with the edge.

Both South Africa and Spain are busy preparing for the Champions Challenge tournament in Ireland, starting on 18 June.


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