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SA women’s side beat Scotland but men go down to Irish
- Updated: July 10, 2014
It was a win-lose situation for our men’s and women’s hockey sides as they opened their Investec Cup campaigns in London on Wednesday.
The two teams are in London to get their final preparations before the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland later this month. The women’s side had a great 2-0 win over Scotland while the men went down 4-2 to Ireland.
Jon Cook reports that the Investec SA women’s side opened their account at England’s new national hockey stadium.
SA striker Kathleen Taylor was in irresistible form, scoring a brace, her first goal in the 15th minute and the second in the 65th.
Goalkeeper Anelle van Deventer was instrumental in the win, keeping her team in the game with a number of world-class saves during periods of dominant Scotland play at stages in both halves.
Great Britain squad Scottish keeper Amy Gibson was also in superb form and denied the rampant SA strikeforce both before and after the changeover, including three gilt-edged chances inside three minutes soon after the re-start following the half-time break.
SA also had a series of penalty corner attempts that might have increased the scoreline had the roll of the ball gone their way. The win was made even more remarkable in that it was achieved with just 14 players while Scotland had the full complement of their 11 starting line-up players plus seven rolling subs.
Several SA players have still to play in London due to unavoidable work and study commitments at home. SA’s world-class striker Sulette Damons is not available for this tournament at all, due to exams, but will be back for the Commonwealth Games.
Skipper Marsha Cox was all over the park in driving her team onwards while Jade Mayne, after three months’ out with serious injury, plus the returning double Olympian defender Lenise Marais, were also superb, along with Bernie Coston and Tarryn Bright.
Lisa Deetlefs, Illse Davids, Shelley Russell, Kelly Madsen, Dirkie Chamberlain, Lilian du Plessis and Nicolene Terblanche all played a positive role at key moments during a highly entertaining match.
Later in the evening the courageous men’s side went down to a well-honed, in-form Ireland after trailing 2-1 at the break. SA played with two players short, which meant little recovery time on the rolling subs’ bench.
Ireland, under head coach Craig Fulton, who was SA assistant coach as recently as December last year, beat world No5 side England in Dublin last Saturday and the men from the Emerald Isle went 1-0 ahead in the 19th minute when Shane O’Donoghue steered his side’s third penalty corner into the backboard.
But SA, in typical fashion, came back hard and the in-form Taine Paton equalised in the 25th when he made the most of fellow striker Pierre de Voux’s great steal to drill the ball on the bounce past Irish keeper David Harte, who is arguably amongst the top three stoppers in the world today (1-1).
SA’s joy was short-lived as four minutes later (29th) Michael Darling restored Ireland’s lead with a great finish after displaying excellent close control under pressure (2-1).
In the midst of the flurry of first-half activity, SA ‘keeper Rassie Pieterse had intervened with success on a number of occasions while the men in green and gold also had their fair slice of goalshot opportunities.
SA came out strongly after the changeover and four good opportunities were without reward, and the Irish increased their winning margin to three when Alan Sothern’s brace in the 41st and 45th minutes ÔÇô the latter a sublime deflection goal after a cross had been accurately fired in from the right ÔÇô gave Fulton’s men the cushion they needed (4-1).
Despite the disparity in player numbers, SA found the energy to conjure up a second goal in the 47th minute when penalty corner injector Lance Louw followed up a rebound off Harte’s leg guards and volleyed the ball into the back of the net (4-2).
SA skipper Austin Smith, senior player Rhett Halkett and the rest of the time can hold their heads up high after putting in an enormous effort.
SA’s remaining Investec Cup fixtures (SA time)
Thurs, 10 July: SA women v England 2.15pm; SA men v England 8.30pm
Sat, 12 July: SA men v Scotland 10.45am; SA women v Wales 6.15pm
Sun, 13 July: Play-offs for final placings.
Photo: Ady Kerry