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Du Plessis helps SA to draw against Belgium

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The Investec South Africa women’s hockey team and Belgium fought out a 1-1 draw in the exciting first Test of the six-Test series at Hartleyvale on Friday night after the Belgians led 1-0 at half-time.
The goals came from a superbly struck Stephanie de Groof penalty corner in the second minute while SA’s Lilian du Plessis equalised in the 33rd minute with a well-taken field goal, reports Jon Cook.
Belgium started strongly, winning a penalty corner in the second minute – and it was flawless in its execution – De Groof’s slap-shot cannoning into the backboard (1-0).
SA came back into the game and launched a number of dangerous attacks without reward, as did the Belgians, while there was some solid defending from both sides as attackers strived to find a way through.
Early into the second chukka and the defence did well to repel a dangerous De Groof PC strike before SA goalpoacher Dirkie Chamberlain got in a shot on the turn. The end-to-end action did not let up and after keeper Sanani Mangisa had made a good save, another De Groof PC was well monitored.
Belgium had the upper hand as the second quarter ticked down – and half time drew near. Barbara Nelen, Manon Simons and Jill Boon were posing problems upfront but defenders Lisa Deetlefs, captain for the match Nicolene Terblanche, Marcelle Manson and Nicole Walraven held firm.
Into the third chukka and a determined run and well-struck cross from the right by Sulette Damons was coolly trapped and slotted into the far corner of the goalbox by Du Plessis for 1-1 in the 33rd minute.
SA continued their resurgence and a number of opportunities came and went, not to say that replacement SA keeper Anelle van Deventer was idle at the other end. Matters became increasingly physical as both sides fought for advantage but at the third quarter’s end it was still 1-1.
In the thrilling fourth and final chukka Van Deventer made a stunning triple save that had the crowd on its feet. No amount of effort could break the deadlock and the final score was 1-1.
The Cape Town Summer Series kicks up a gear Saturday and Sunday with double-header afternoon Test matches that involve the SA men and women in three of the four clashes, while the other one is very special – Holland men versus Belgium men. Sunday is a back-to-back affair with both SA teams in action.

SATURDAY AND SUNDAY FIXTURES
All at Hartleyvale
Saturday – Men: Holland vs Belgium (3pm); Women: SA vs Belgium (5pm).
Sunday – Women: SA vs Chile (2pm); Men: SA vs Ireland (4pm).

Picture: Matt Withers


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