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Pietie’s a world-beater

South Africa’s superstar striker Pietie Coetzee was the hero of a 10-goal thriller in the Champions Challenge hockey tournament in Dublin, Ireland on Tuesday.

Coetzee broke the world record of 220 Test match goals with a stunning first half hat-trick and went on to score four of the five goals as South Africa drew  5-5 with the USA.

South Africa only needed the draw to finish on top of Pool A. The team need to reach the final of this tournament if they are to come into contention for inclusion in the national squad to travel to London next year for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Jonathan Cook reports that Two classic Coetzee penalty corner drag-flicks were followed by a sizzling action goal that crashed into the backboard 12 minutes from the halftime whistle. The Bloemfontein-born Johannesburg resident added one more for good measure after the changeover. Her record now stands at 222 goals in 224 Tests.

SA needed just one point to win their pooland they delivered the goods in what was nevertheless an unconvincing performance that will be of concern to head coach Gils Bonnet and his army of trainers as the tournament goes into the knockout phase.

Wednesday is a rest day before the teams go into Thursday’s quarter-finals. SA’s team’s opponents will be determined after Tuesday’s late matches.

South Africa started awkwardly, in contrast to their 5-1 rout of Japan Sunday and more in keeping with the 2-2 draw against Scotland the day before and Paige Selenski followed up the rebound off keeper Mariette Rix’s pads to slot the opener (0-1).

Technically, SA were not up to scratch as first touches, regulation passes and clearances went awry; manna from heaven for the hungry Americans.

A controlled run from in-form forward Kathleen Taylor set up SA’s first PC in the ninth minute. The variation left earned SA a second PC and Coetzee’s drag flick ballooned the net.

The 220-mark of Russia’s Natella Krasnikova was now just a goal away and striker Dirkie Chamberlain won another PC shortly after, which Coetzee fired past Jackie Kintzer with consummate ease to equal the milestone set two decades ago (2-1).

The USA hit back with two PCs but the in-form Rix was up for the challenge and at the other end Coetzee’s snap shot on the turn went narrowly past the far post. With 12 minutes to half-time, Coetzee ushered in her new world record with a sizzling shot that crashed into the backboard.

But it was not over and Rix completed a remarkable reflex save from yet another USA penalty corner before Clare Laubach’s PC grass-cutter shortly after pulled the USA back to 3-2 down at the changeover.

Soon after the re-start Lenise Marais recovered quickly from a messy penalty corner to drill her shot into the backboard and re-establish SA’s two-goal cushion (4-2). A rampant SA piled in strong shots from Coetzee and Damons before a Tarryn Bright PC variation goal was disallowed.

But Selenski got the USA back to 4-3 and the ball game was far from over when Katie O’Donnell drew the Americans level at 4-4 with 18 left. The USA went ahead with eight to go when O’Donnell got on the scoresheet again (4-5) before Coetzee netted her fourth to bring SA back to 5-5.


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