SA put up a fight | SASCOC - SASCOC

SA put up a fight

The Investec South Africa women’s hockey team put in a much-improved performance against reigning Olympic Games gold medallists Holland in Amsterdam Wednesday night.

The final score might have been 3-0 to the Dutch but the South Africans had every right to feel aggrieved at several decisions and at the same time reflect on the healthy number of goalscoring opportunities they created.

Mindful of the Champions Challenge in Dublin from 18-26 June, SA head coach Giles Bonnet opted to rest captain and 2010 World All Stars midfielder Marsha Marescia, as well as number one Mariette Rix, who recently became the first ‘keeper to earn 100 Test appearances in the green and gold.

In the wake of SA’s 8-2 defeat in the first Test the day before, it was a brave decision that mirrored his confidence in the squad. It also left second-choice stopper Sanani Mangisa with the daunting task of being the last line of defence against one of the most potent attacking line-ups in world hockey.

The occasion was also SA midfielder Tarryn Bright’s 150th Test match appearance for her country and she put in a typically busy performance in midfield.

A cynical foul on Kathleen Taylor gave SA the first penalty corner in the third minute, but Pietie Coetzee’s shot was saved.

SA were putting far more pressure on their opponents than they did the day before, making inroads into the Holland defence, but several heavy tackles went unchallenged by the Dutch umpires.

Midway through the half Dirkie Chamberlain got a touch on a slap-pass from outstanding SA central defender Lisa Deetlefs but the keeper cleared the danger. Soon after, Chamberlain’s shot smashed into the sideboard of the Dutch goals.

The first Dutch opportunity came 11 minutes from half-time, Mangisa pulling off a super save before the rebound shot cannoned off the woodwork. But Holland took the lead three minutes later with a trademark goal inside the six-yard box finished off by Claire Verhage.

After the changeover Holland’s free-flowing hockey came to the fore but goalkeeper Mangisa kept SA in the game. SA earned another penalty corner but Kim Hubach’s flick was gloved away by the keeper.

An excellent spell by SA saw a Chamberlain shot ┬áagonisingly close to leveling the scores while at the other end Mangisa made several superbly timed interventions before Holland got a breakaway and after the keeper’s initial save Kim Lammers slapped in the rebound with 11 minutes left on the clock.

Three minutes from full-time the umpire gave a controversial penalty corner award and Holland captain Maartje Paumen whistled her drag-flick into the net. In the dying seconds a Lesle-Ann George left-right cross nearly connected the industrious Shelley Russell’s outstretched stick.

Team SA can take away much confidence from this performance as they head to Dublin.