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Improved Belgians beat SA in second Test

As predicted, Belgium were far better than in Sunday’s 6-0 first Test defeat by the Investec South Africa women’s hockey team but few would have anticipated a 2-0 victory by the Europeans in Tuesday night’s second Test in Cape Town.

But two-zip it was to a Belgian line-up that featured four changes, writes Jon Cook.

Manon Simons got a brace of field goals in the 61st and 65th minutes in her first match of the six-Test series at Hartleyvale Hockey Stadium.

With the series now 1-1, Wednesday’s 7pm third Test has the prospect of plenty of fireworks.

The first half was a very open affair with both sides able to carve out goalscoring opportunities, Shelley Russell and Marsha Cox setting up SA’s first penalty corner in the opening minute, but both Quanita Bobbs (drag-flick) and Sulette Damons (rebound) had their efforts blocked.


SA’s second PC came and went, while at the other end keeper Phume Mbande did well to smother a Jill Boon attempt. In the 16th minute, Kathleen Taylor freed up Celia Evans but keeper Aisling D’Hooghe was alert to the danger ÔÇô and the end-to-end action continued when Mbande stopped the Belgians’ first PC, a conventional hit by Stephanie de Groof.

SA striker Dirkie Chamberlain and Cox both got shots away as the goalmouth action continued unabated, while Boon had her third attempt of the contest sail over the crossbar.

Pictured right: SA captain Marsha Cox (left) and team-mates Nicolene Terblanche, keeper Phume Mbande and Quanita Bobbs in defensive mode as Belgium’s Jill Boon strikes for goal. Picture: Matthew Withers/Action Pix

One minute from half-time, Stephanie van de Borre, Louise Versavel and Alix Gerniers combined beautifully to earn the Belgians’ second PC, which led to a third that Mbande glanced away with the left glove from Anne-Sophie Scheemaekere’s fluid drag-flick.

SA had a great opportunity four minutes after the re-start when Celia Evans won the ball in the 23-metre area and fed Damons, but the shot/pass went wide of the far post.

In the 51st a square ball across the width of the field from Lisa Deetlefs and a long ball down the right by Nicolene Terblanche almost unlocked the dogged Belgian defence, but the reds held firm, as did the SA defence from the Europeans’ fourth PC, while Mbande made two fine saves in quick succession a little later.

The Belgians were not to be denied, however, and Simons opened the scoring when she made no mistake with nine minutes left (61st).

Four minutes later (65th) she added her second with a superb first-time strike after Mbande’s initial save had resulted in the ball rebounding into the goalscorer’s arc.

South Africa’s world record Test match goalscorer Pietie Coetzee (illness) has missed both Belgium Tests but should be back for the third. Kaila Flemming, in for Marcelle Manson, was the only change to the SA team that drummed Belgium 6-0 in the Sunday’s first Test.

Belgium made four changes, De Scheemaekere, Emilie Sinia, Axelle Wouters and Simons coming in for Louise Cavenaille, Erica Coppey, captain Charlotte de Vos and Maureen Beernaert. Barbara Nelen took over the captaincy.

Star-studded Dutch Hoofdklasse team Amsterdam HC, who are enjoying a training camp in the Western Cape during the European mid-season break, beat an off-season Western Province Invitation team 10-1 in the curtain-raiser.

FIXTURES
(all at Hartleyvale)
3rd Test Wednesday (7pm)
Thursday ÔÇô Men’s international friendly: WP Invitation vs Amsterdam HC
4th Test Friday (7pm)
5th Test Sunday (4pm)
6th Test Monday, 3 Feb (7pm)


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