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Sulette scores but SA lose
- Updated: July 29, 2011
Bucketloads of guts and tenacity helped our Investec national women’s side craft a 1-0 half-time lead over the world’s top-ranked side, Holland side on Thursday but finally went down 5-1 in the second Test.
Played in the leafy town of Ede, just outside Amsterdam, the match saw a combination of Dutch class with the stick and incompetence with the whistle on the field and event management off it.
The third bungling of the South African national anthem in the four times the teams have met in the past two months in Holland was well handled by the SA team, who carried on singing regardless of the cutting of three or four verses. To his credit, Dutch head coach Max Caldas asked for the anthem to be replayed.
Then it was yet another inexperienced Dutch umpire feeling her way in international waters with a maiden Test match who blew the whistle with only one eye open, it seemed, and only had her focus on one team.
After their 5-0 win in Wednesday’s first Test, coach Caldas made a stunning move by starting without a goalkeeper, rather using superstar former South African forward Marilyn Agliotti as a field player in a bid to exploit the extra player advantage.
It worked early on as Holland threatened to suffocate South Africa with overwhelming pressure, but goalkeeper Mariette Rix kept the girls in green and gold in the game with several telling saves before her team-mates broke out in the eighth minute with Shelley Russell the instigator before the ball passed from Kathleen Taylor to Jade Mayne and on to Sulette Damons for the SA striker to deliver the killer blow.
Caldas then brought on goalkeeper Joyce Sombroek with immediate effect and the Dutch began to benefit from the 50-50 calls that just about always went their way.ÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿SA defended their 1-0 lead with authority and calmness under pressure, while also stealing away on several sniping attacks, but a long road lay ahead in the second half before a remarkable upset victory over the world’s top women’s team could be claimed.
Diabolical second-half umpiring decisions continued to plague the gutsy yet tired South Africans who were playing their fifth Test match in six days and it didn’t help that the Dutch were also playing very good hockey, which caused the SA defensive format to be stretched beyond the limit. Kim Lammers, Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel, Claire Verhage, Ellen Hoog and Kitty van Male were the final receivers in some top-class attacking plays to seal a victory that left something of a sour taste.
The Investec SA team left for Dublin, Ireland at 5am on Friday morning and face Scotland at 7pm SA time the same day on the neutral territory of Ireland’s National Hockey Stadium before the second Test against the Scots at 3pm Saturday and the final Test on Sunday against the same country at 10am SA time.
This makes it a scarcely believable eight Test matches in nine days before they head home on a 24-hour journey via Amsterdam and Dubai next Monday.