SA draw with Irish | SASCOC - SASCOC

SA draw with Irish

The Investec South Africa women’s hockey team and Ireland played to an exciting 2-2 draw in the opening Four Nations Test match in Parana, Argentina late on Wednesday night.

Ireland led 1-0 at half-time through Aine Connery’s second-minute field goal before SA replied eight minutes after the changeover via a Kate Woods penalty corner. Captain Alexa Speers restored Ireland’s lead with a 46th minute corner before Woods’s Western Province team-mate Tarryn Bright netted the equaliser from a set-piece 16 minutes from time.

Next up, SA meet world champions Argentina at 1am Friday (SA time). SA will then face India at 10.30 pm on Saturday (SA time) before Sunday’s finals.

In Tuesday’s other match, a pulsating encounter, world champions Argentina beat world number 13 India 3-1.

While neither South Africa nor Ireland welcomed the 2-2 draw, it was an improvement on Ireland’s part after their 2-0 defeat to SA in the initial Four Nations event in Buenos Aires last week.

The world’s 12th ranked side, SA squad got off to the worst possible start against their 14th ranked opponents when Amy Colvin made inroads along the left-hand baseline before laying off for Connery to score (1-0).

Then in the ninth, a Bernie Coston right-to-left diagonal pass inside Ireland’s 23-metre area found Celia Evans and brought a fine stick save low to the right from Emma Gray. Next up, neat inter-passing between Jade Mayne and Liesel Dorothy found SA striker Sulette Damons, who came close to equalising.

Damons and Chloe Watkins traded shots before half-time but SA were dealt a blow when 2010 SA Player of the Year Lesle-Ann George was forced to leave the field for the rest of a gripping match.

SA’s first penalty corner (PC) came and went before goalkeeper Sanani Mangisa blocked a Nikki Daly effort, and then Speers came close. But excellent build-up earned SA’s second PC and Woods took a step to the right before nailing the equaliser into the backboard (1-1).

A third SA corner came to naught before the tide turned in helter-skelter fashion once again. Daly won Ireland’s second PC and Speers netted from a goalmouth scramble (2-1). Nicola Evans nearly made it more for Ireland, but it was all square again when corner injector Bright followed up off the keeper’s pads after SA’s fourth PC (2-2).

With a quarter-hour left, there was everything to play for, and skilful work by Kathleen Taylor very nearly found the winner from Mayne. There a lot at stake for both sides in this tournament, so their next match against world champions Argentina should be thrill-a-minute stuff.

Mariette Rix, Kate Woods, Ilse Davids, Tarryn Bright, Shelley Russell, Jade Mayne, Kathleen Taylor (all Western Province);  Marsha Marescia (capt), Lisa Deetlefs, Bernie Coston (all Southern Gauteng); Sanani Mangisa, Nicolene Terblanche, Dirkie Chamberlain (all Northern Blues); Sulette Damons, Celia Evans (both North West); Lenise Marais (KZN Coastal Raiders); Liesel Dorothy (Eastern Province).

Remaining fixtures (all SA time) ÔÇô Thursday: India v Ireland (10.30 pm); SA v Argentina (1 am Friday). Saturday: India v SA (10.30 pm); Argentina vs Ireland (1 am Sunday). Sunday: bronze medal match (10.30 pm); gold medal match (1am Monday).