Rampant Russell helps SA roar into semi-finals | SASCOC - SASCOC

Rampant Russell helps SA roar into semi-finals

Our senior women’s hockey side will take on Ireland in Saturday’s Champions Challenge semi-final, writes Mark Etheridge.

This, after they beat host nation Scotland in the Glasgow hosted tournament on Thursday.

South Africa have Shelley Russell, seen here taking on Rebecca Ward, to thank for their victory as she got the girls in green and gold off to the perfect start with a first-minute goal.

Russell also struck early in the second half to dampen Scottish spirits and despite a late goal by Emily Maguire, the Scots were unable to draw level.

The little blonde striker picked up possession in midfield shortly after the opening whistle and drove her way into the circle before scoring with a low shot into the bottom left corner.

South Africa had numerous chances to increase their lead in the first half, best of which probably went to Kathleen Taylor whose shot narrowly shaved the right hand upright from close range.

Giles Bonnet’s side doubled their lead early in the second half as Lisa Marie Deetlefs struck for goal from a penalty corner and Russell got a deflection to take it past Scottish keeper Amy Gibson.

More chances fell the way of Celia Evans and Sulette Damons as well as Lilian du Plessis and Bernadette Coston.

SA keeper Anelle van Deventer was finally beaten in the 64th minute as Maguire scrambled home a rebound from the crossbar.

Next up for South Africa are Ireland on Saturday afternoon after the latter had scored a surprise 2-1 win over eighth ranked South Korea on Thursday.

After the match Russell was interviewed by the sports governing body, FIH and said:┬á “We really had to focus on the way we started the match. In the previous games it took us a while to get going so we said we would go out all guns blazing. Our warm-up was much sharper and we just went from the whistle.”

Asked about the spirit in the SA camp her reply was:┬á “Well we are really ecstatic about today’s result, but we are a really close bunch of players anyway. I know it sounds like a cliche, but we really are like a big family.

“This year we will be spending at least 50 days together so it is really important that we all get on with each other. We are lucky because we genuinely do all get on together.”

Picture: Rodrigo Jaramillo