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Las Leonas beat SA

The Investec South Africa women’s hockey team went down 4-1 to Argentina in the Four Nations encounter in Buenos Aires late on Thursday night.

The world champs, known as Las Leonas by their beloved fans, had goals came from Josefina Sruoga, captain No├½l Barrionuevo, Roberta Werthein and Carla Dupuy to thank for their victory with Northern Blues’ Dirkie Chamberlain replying for the green and gold.

In the opening 30 seconds the ball went through five SA sticks and a goal was not far off. A minute later a superb pass from Barrionuevo brought the first penalty corner (PS) but the shot was well saved by keeper Mariette Rix of Western Province. However, a fortuitous deflection seconds after led to Sruoga’s effort lob into the net (1-0).

Incisive passing saw Kathleen Taylor of WP hacked in the 23m area and brought SA’s first PC in the 10th minute but corner injector Lisa Deetlefs of Southern Gauteng had her shot off the deflection saved by keeper Laura del Colle in what already shaping to be a high-octane, action-packed game.

Midway, Maria Fernandez did well to free herself up under pressure from Deetlefs but struck narrowly past the post. Soon after a great through ball set up Werthein at point-blank range but Rix was up for it. With 13 left another visionary Barrionuevo left-right diagonal overhead gave Rosario Luchetti a great opportunity but Rix was there. However, the PC a minute later saw Barrionuevo fire low past Rix’s right (2-0).

Free State’s Lesle-Ann George was in tip-top form in SA’s 2-0 over Ireland and continued working hard but with three left it was Deetlefs who fired a long ball into the strike zone and Chamberlain netted the scramble (2-1).

Soon after the changeover SA won two consecutive PCs and SA player of the Year Tarryn Bright of WP had her shot saved. Las Leonas had two of their own but the set-pieces were repelled. However, Werthein smashed in the two-goal cushion to a massive roar from the big crowd a bit later (3-1).

SA’s fourth PC saw Eastern Province’s Liesel Dorothy’s well-struck shot cause consternation in the Las Leonas goal but the scoreline didn’t change. Deetlefs cleared off the line with 20 left and then replacement keeper Sanani Mangisa of Northern Blues glove-saved but seconds later Carla Dupuy swivelled to blast home (4-1).

SA kept working hard as the action flowed swift and fast, Bright coming close from SA’s fifth PC and provincial team-mate Taylor’s shot being blocked. Argentina had their chances too but Mangisa held firm till the end.

In an ironic twist, SA have given Argentina their Africa continent place at London 2012 in return for the South Americans’ berth at the Olympic Qualifier in Delhi come February next year. South Africa’s Olympic governing body SASCOC did not recognise the quality of play at the Africa Cup and set the national team more rigorous targets.

After Friday’s rest day, SA meet India on Saturday night in the final round-robin match before Argentina tackle Ireland. To reach Sunday’s final, SA need a draw while India must win. Ireland are unlikely to beat Argentina, but stranger things have happened.


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