South Africa scored the only goal of the game as they confirmed a 7th place finish at the Commonwealth Games. Lilian du Plessis finishing off a wonderful team move was the difference between the teams. 

South Africa and Wales concluded their 2022 Commonwealth Games programmes today as they battled each other for 7th place in Birmingham. The two teams are recent foes having played in a three match series in the build up to the tournament that ended in a 1-1 draw with the total goals scored matching that.

The opening quarter saw Wales have the best opportunity but South Africa had more possession and were disappointed not to capitalise on their penalty corner with a mis-trap. With Jean-Leigh du Toit on the park the South Africans have a lethal weapon at the Penalty corner time and they desperately want to give her opportunities to add to her 6 for the tournament so far. 

South Africa were upping the ante in the second quarter with Kristen Paton regularly a driving force in the South African attack. Two penalty corners were awarded to the South Africans. Du Toit picked the drag flick approach for the first which was well saved, while the low drive on the right for the second was narrowly wide. 

South Africa were probably the better of the two teams as the game headed towards half time, but both teams were lacking the finishing touch. For South Africa it felt like if it was gonna happen Paton would be the one to make it happen as she fired a shot narrowly wide. But they still needed to remain aware at the back as Mbande was quickly called on to make two important saves. 

At half time there was nothing to separate the two teams, in the stats and on the scoreboard. 

South Africa were awarded a double penalty corner in the opening 90 seconds of the second half but once again the opportunity wasn’t taken as Wales continued to hold the South Africans at bay. Through Kristen Paton they were awarded another penalty corner a few minutes later, their 6th of the match. But once again it wasn’t capitalised on. 

A moment of quality came as Wales received a green card, That Zulu drove into the circle and picked out a superb ball to find Lilian du Plessis on the back post who made a tough move look easy with the finish. It was a great move down the left for the South Africans that would have delighted Giles Bonnet. 

That moment of quality was the moment that separated the two sides at the end of the third quarter as just 15 minutes remained in both teams tournaments. 

South Africa received a green card with 10 minutes remaining in the game and Wales would probably have seen this as their opportunity to pull the game back, but they were frustrated by their inability to create any chance of significant quality as the South Africans returned to 11. 

South Africa were very close to a second. Kristen Paton created the space passed onto Lilian du Plessis who hit a tantalising ball into the circle which was inches away from the stick of a diving Tarryn Lombard. Just six minutes remained in the game. 

Wales pulled their keeper for the final four minutes as they looked for the opportunity to take the game to a shootout. They looked for opportunities to create a goalscoring moment but the South Africans were holding resolute and denying them any moments of danger. 

Wales won a penalty corner with 1 second left on the clock. South Africa immediately referred and it was overturned. South Africa had won the game and with it had sealed a 7th placed finish at the Games. 

An opening blitz from New Zealand saw them score three times in the opening quarter that gave them a lead that would never be shaken. Ultimately the three goal difference would remain until the end and New Zealand would secure a spot in the Semi-Finals. 

South Africa headed to the turf in Birmingham knowing that they would need a 4 goal victory to progress to the semi-finals round. It would be a monumental challenge as the South Africans had not beaten the 8th ranked New Zealanders in a major tournament since the 2008 Olympic Games. They were however in an optimistic mood following their free scoring adventure against Kenya. 

Both sides created a few early circle entries, but the shots were fairly tame. However it was New Zealand who struck first when they went on a run that wasn’t interrupted and Tessa Jopp powered the ball past Phumelela Mbande to give the Black Sticks the lead. 

One became two shortly after. Hanrie Louw was unable to clear the ball and Tyler Lench finished happily and easily. New Zealand would next have a penalty corner and from the resultant set piece they would make it 3-0, which would remain the score until the end of the quarter. 

New Zealand were dictating the play and were being rewarded with a few penalty corners, but they were frustrated in their inability to finish the chances. The South Africans were defending with all their might as the New Zealanders launched attack after attack and were holding the Black Sticks far more successfully. They also created a good chance for Tarryn Lombard but it fired wide as the  half drew to its conclusion.

New Zealand had a massive chance early in the second half, but they were first denied by a great Mbande save before Hannah Pearce cleared off the line brilliantly. South Africa were creating a few opportunities but their connections were not quite on the same channels as they lost the ball rather easily. The game was lacking the quality of prior games in the tournament and the third quarter ended without a goal scored. 

New Zealand had a penalty corner early in the final quarter, Mbande saved but the resultant melee saw a penalty stroke awarded, which was immediately referred. The decision was immediately changed to another penalty corner. This time the quality was there and New Zealand scored through Kaitlin Cotter. 

South Africa won their first penalty corner of the game after good work from Lombard. The shot from Jean-Leigh Du Toit was saved but another pc was awarded. This time she went with the drag flick which was saved again. It was third time lucky though as on the third award du Toit fired into the top left corner, a truly remarkable goal. 

The South Africans were fired up from the goal and won another penalty corner through Kristen Paton. This time the shot went wide but South Africa created another entry just after as they looked to add a second to the scoreline. 

But it was New Zealand who had the next opportunity with a double penalty corner, but they were unable to execute effectively once again. Mbande pulled off an incredible save to keep the score at 4-1. It was a world class save from South Africa’s standout player at the tournament. 

Ultimately though that would be that and South Africa and New Zealand would get the victory and  the spot in the semi-finals. For South Africa its a place in the 7/8 Playoff match to wrap up the tournament. 

South Africa underlined their dominance on the African continent with a dismissive victory over their East African neighbours in Birmingham today. Hat-tricks from Jean-Leigh du Toit, Tarryn Lombard and Lilian du Plessis were enough to give the South Africans a comfortable win that mathematically keeps them in with a medal hope. 

South Africa and Kenya saw the first All African affair of the 2022 Commonwealth Games take place in Birmingham. Both teams were looking for their first victories of the tournament so there was added spice to an encounter that last took place in Ghana earlier this year at the African Cup of Nations. 

South Africa made their intentions clear very early with the intent of a team looking to win convincingly. They had the first goal in the 7th minute through the exciting youngster Jean-Leigh du Toit who smashed home a penalty corner.  She looked to double the lead at the next penalty corner but it was superbly charged down by the first wave of the Kenyans. But the African champions wouldn’t have to wait long for another chance to strike as Lilian du Plessis won a penalty corner. 

This time South Africa beat the keeper but a superb defensive clearance on line initially denied the South Africans, however the ball was bundled home by Tarryn Lombard and doubled the South African advantage. Two quickly became three as Quanita Bobbs fed the ball through and top goalscorer at numerous African Cups Lilian du Plessis made no mistake of making it 3-0. 

Bobbs was enjoying her space in the middle of the park and provided another for former captain Erin Christie. Her diagonal tomahawk ball found the midfielder running into the circle and she finished with the composure of a seasoned striker and at the end of the quarter it was 4-0 to the South Africans. 

Nepo Serage was called on to make a save early in the second quarter but when the Kenyans managed to get passed her, Hannah Pearce was on hand to clear the ball. Bernie Coston received a yellow card for a foul in the build up but South Africa were well in control of the game. South Africa won a penalty corner in the time that Coston was off the park, but du Plessis drag was saved before Quanita Bobbs hit the rebound over the top of the goal. 

Kenya would have been the more satisfied team after the opening ten minutes of the second quarter as they had limited the South African goalscoring opportunities to a minimum and had a slightly better territorial game than in the opening 15 minutes. Despite the improved performance from the East Africans, South Africa did add to the scoreline with 3 minutes remaining in the quarter. A carbon copy of the opening goal saw Jean-Leigh du Toit double her tally for the game and give South Africa a 5 goal advantage. 

There was a debate over who scored the South African 6th goal. Erin Christie had the shot and it appeared to snick the stick of Tarryn Lombard as it nestled into the back of the net. The goal was credited to Lombard, which left no debate about who was the winner of the first half of the game. 

Kenya played with tremendous effort but it always felt like a case of when rather than if the South Africans would add to the scoreline. They did it through another Quanita Bobbs assist as she found Kristen Paton and the Klein Switzerland new signing finished off superbly. 

Lilian du Plessis made it 8 with a goal of individual quality. She surged through the middle of the park, got a great touch and poked it past the onrushing keeper. It was a goal of true quality from the experienced striker. Okore in goals for Kenya was playing superbly to thwart South African advances. But she couldn’t do anything to stop Jean-Leigh du Toit from scoring her third and completing her first international hat-trick for South Africa. 

The same player popped up again to add her 4th and South Africa’s tenth on the night as another brutal strike from a penalty corner smashed into the backboard. The South Africans would have the chance to add an 11th when they reviewed to be awarded a penalty stroke. Lilian du Plessis stood up and made no mistake. 

She made it 12 and four shortly afterwards when an unselfish layoff from Bernadette Coston saw Du Plessis have the easy task of putting into the back of an empty goal. Tarryn Lombard was on hand to put home the 13th goal for South Africa and become the third hat-trick scorer of the game. And Du Toit made it five for herself and 14 for South Africa from a penalty corner after that. South Africa would make it 15 through Bernie Coston right at the end of the game to seal the South Africans second biggest victory in Commonwealth Games history (16-0 vs. Trinidad and Tobago in 2014). 

The victory gives South Africa a mathematical chance of qualifying for the medal rounds if they can win big against New Zealand on Thursday. 

Australia underlined their credentials as tournament favourites with a no-nonsense display to emerge victorious against the South Africans thanks to an inspired second half display. Goals from Squib, Kershaw, Nobbs and Taylor were enough to seal the victory for the Oceania giants who would have been less pleased with the first half before delivering the knockout blow in the second half. 

South Africa took on Australia in a repeat of their FIH World Cup Meeting less than a month ago. South Africa had opened their campaign with a defeat to Scotland while Australia had beaten Kenya in their opening game. Both were looking for improved performances. 

South Africa caught Australia with an early break and a fine shot from Kristen Paton was kept out as the African champions looked to surprise the World Cup semi-finalists. But almost immediately the Australians had their lead. They surged up the other end and fired in a penalty corner that was dispatched superbly. Australia were bossing the possession and territory as South Africa looked for an opportunity to get out of their half. 

Bianca Wood was offering South Africa a momentary glimpse of opportunity as she led the counter attack game but there were very few moments of danger for the South Africans as the Australians showed dominance. Phumelela Mbande had to make a save from a penalty corner with a solid left boot but she would have to stay aware as the Australians were very much up for the game. The South Africans were showing tremendous heart but as they were defending with so many players the opportunities to escape were limited. Nevertheless at the end of the opening quarter it remained just the one goal for the Australians. 

South Africa were showing glimpses of quality but decision making in the final quarter was not at its optimal level. Australia created two good opportunities early but fired the first wide and the second high and over the crossbar. Australia continued to created but continued to be thwarted by the resilient South Africans. Mbande was busier than she would have wanted to be, but she was up to the challenge. Her confidence was slowly but surely started to build in the players in front as South Africa grew in belief in the game. 

A slightly more competitive second quarter came to an end without a goal added to the scoreline and at the half time break it was just the one goal in the game. 

South Africa gave away an early penalty corner with an unforced error in the second half. Australia, finally added to the scoreline with a Taylor drag flick that gave Mbande no chance and doubled the lead. Australia were looking to add to the lead and created a good opportunity through some quick passing but Mbande doused the flames once again. 

The would make it 3-0 as Kershaw beat her defender to the ball and got a deflection in front of Mbande that nestled into the goal. South Africa created the most dangerous opportunity since the early Kristen Paton shot and were awarded a penalty corner. Despite a poor stop they got the shot away by Paton but a reward gave the the Africans another opportunity. This time it was a save that denied the South Africans women. 

An instinctive reaction shot from Robyn Johnson after a Quanita Bobbs drive almost caught Australia out but it was inches wide. Australia had another penalty corner but once again the South African defence stood firm. And the end of the third quarter came to an end. 

Australia were gifted the opportunity to stretch the lead in the final quarter early on with a penalty stroke and Kaitlin Nobbs, on her 100th test appearance for Australia, made no mistake. They weren’t as clinical on the next penalty corner as they fired it wide of the goal and the score remained 4-0 with 12 minutes remaining. They would not be as forgiving with the next penalty corner though and Penny Squib produced her second with a devastating drag flick into the top left corner. 

South Africa continued to try with great determination for an opportunity but Australia were coming forward with wave after wave of attack offering the South Africans scant opportunity for anything. 

With minutes remaining the game largely fizzled out and the Australians were victorious on the back of a dominant second half display. South Africa will be looking to bounce back on Tuesday when they take on fellow Africans Kenya. 

South Africa’s Commonwealth Games campaign has ended in defeat as Scotland pulled back from a goal down to earn an opening day victory against the African champions.

South Africa and Scotland got their 2022 Commonwealth Games underway this afternoon in Birmingham as they met in the group stage opener. There was an added element of intrigue as Heather McEwan, a former South African International Indoor player, lined up for the European nation.

South Africa were looking for a positive start after the disappointing FIH Hockey World Cup but had their backs against the wall early on when they conceded from a second penalty corner. Phumelela Mbande had saved the first one with her helmet, but on the second award Charlotte Watson finished a similar routine.

This spurred the South Africans forward and the African Champions surged forward, won a penalty corner, and levelled. Jean Leigh du Toit fired in the shot and Lisa Deetlefs reacted quickest to restore parity. With four minutes remaining in the opening quarter South Africa used a referral and were awarded another penalty corner. Unfortunately, the shot from Quanita Bobbs was charged down. A few seconds later South Africa had another chance as Tarryn Lombard put Onthathile Zulu through. The exciting striker was losing her footing as she struck, and the shot was saved easily.

The South Africans were starting to dominate the possession stakes and Marizen Marais produced a solid run to win another penalty corner for the South Africans. It was a pivotal moment as it led to the second goal of the game for Lisa Deetlefs. A deflection from Deeltefs from the Lilian du Plessis drag made it 2-1. It would be the score at the end of the first quarter.

South Africa made the first mark in the second quarter when they won another penalty corner, but the chance went astray. It was a frustrating moment for the South Africans as Scotland levelled. A run into the circle was not picked up and Sarah Robertson finished easily.

It was Scotland who were exerting the lions share of pressure now with the South Africans having to bide their time to regain the upper hand. Bianca Wood had a shot for the South Africans as they regained the foothold, which led to a penalty corner shortly afterwards. The South Africans thought they had regained the lead, but a world class save from Scotland denied the South Africans the lead as South Africa ramped the pressure up. Lisa Deetlefs fired over on the reverse stick as she looked to complete her own hat-trick as the heat started taking its toll on the intensity of the game.

Scotland was awarded a late penalty corner just before the half time break, South Africa immediately reviewed the decision, but the camera angles were inconclusive and the penalty corner remained. The Africans read the variation and surged up the other end through Tarryn Lombard who set up Du Plessis, the Scots though pulled off a great save to maintain parity at the half time break.

South Africa found themselves trailing again early in the second half. A good save from a penalty corner by Mbande but the rebound was superbly driven in by Robertson and a diving deflection from Fiona Burnet saw Scotland regain the lead. A minute later Scotland had another penalty corner as the ball hit Hannah Pearce on the foot. South Africa though answered the penalty corner question superbly through a great save by Mbande.

South Africa had a big chance but Bianca Wood was denied as they sought for a leveller. South Africa continued to surge forward looking for a goal but they were being frustrated by a resolute Scottish defence. And with 15 minutes remaining it remained 3-2 to the European Nation.

Quanita Bobbs produced a wonderful run at the defence at the start of the final quarter but her shot was saved and another chance had gone without reward for the South Africans. Scotland received a yellow card for dangerous play. South Africa won another penalty corner but the Shot from Bobbs fired inches wide.

South Africa produced another golden opportunity when Kristen Paton picked out the perfect pass which Bernie Coston dived onto and it was again superbly saved by Gibson. Mbande was then called on to make a quality save of her own as Scotland fought back. They won a penalty corner from the danger and managed to pull a further goal ahead through Louis Campbell. It was a sucker punch for the South Africans who were enjoying their best period of the game.

The African ladies continued to search for a goal but were thwarted again and again and ultimately their Commonwealth Games opener ended in defeat.

FINAL SCORE

Scotland 4-2 South Africa

Chile confirmed a share of 13th spot at the FIH Hockey Womens World Cup in Amsterdam today when they triumphed by one goal over the South Africans, who settle for 15th place.

South Africa and Chile, the two lowest ranked sides in the FIH Hockey World Cup, met today in the 13-16 playoff bracket. Both sides knew that a victory would secure a finish higher than their respective World Ranking coming into the tournament, so there was more than just pride to play for as they concluded their participation in this year’s tournament.

Chile and South Africa had secured third spot in their pools, but both had fallen short in the 9-16 Playoffs and were looking to bounce back in Amsterdam today. For the South Africans they were also acutely aware of the opportunity to build some momentum ahead of the Commonwealth Games, looking for it to start today.

It was Chile who started the brighter opening the bracket of the quarter with a penalty corner. The variation that was tried was over complicated. They got to close the bracket with a penalty corner at the end of the quarter too. This time the straight poke at Mbande was kept out easily.

In between these two moments of danger for Chile, South Africa were attempting to create nuisance and it was Kayla de Waal who looked most likely with runs through the middle. The end pass was lacking from the South Africans though and a fairly inactive first quarter drew to its conclusion.

The Chileans thought they would score early in the second quarter, but an instinctive reactionary save by Mbande left the South Americans stunned. South Africa found Thati Zulu open in the circle, but the touch let the fan favourite down.

South Africa were awarded two penalty corners as they started finding more space in the middle of the park. But the game was lacking the quality final touch from either side and the goalless score line was probably the fair result.

The Chileans lost their referral early in the second half when they thought there was a foot. South Africa were starting to exert domination in terms of possession but were failing to create many meaningful opportunities in game that felt more and more like the first goal would be decisive. Lilian du Plessis had a snapshot, but it went wide and as the momentum was building the South Africans were with a yellow card for Erin Christie.

Another penalty corner was wasted before Quanita Bobbs had a quick shot that was saved well. Chile won a penalty corner themselves, but the South Africans reviewed immediately, and it was overturned. South Africa then used the referral to win a penalty corner themselves. The shot was saved but the South Africans were also back to 11 players having outplayed Chile for the duration of the yellow card.

As so often happens the South African domination mattered for little as Chile scored. A great diagonal ball picked up Manuela Urroz open and her quick leading run gave her the space to finish superbly and leave the Chileans 1-0 up with just 15 minutes remaining.

Chile was reduced to 10 players for a five-minute period in the final quarter as they were penalised for playing the ball after the whistle. South Africa though were unable to create a single goal scoring during the suspension and Chile regained their quota with five minutes to go.

South Africa pulled their keeper and immediately created a circle entry and a shot at goal, but as had been the story of the game it was off target. A cross from Kristen Paton found the stick of Tarryn Lombard but the deflection was wide and it was ultimately Chile who were victorious and sealed a share of 13th spot with their second win of the tournament.

 And that draws a conclusion on the South African challenge at the 2022 FIH Hockey Women’s World Cup. There were bright moments for the team who will look to build on this in the next couple of months as they face the challenges of the Commonwealth Games, the FIH Nations Cup and the Olympic Qualifying tournament.

 

 

 

Ireland scored through two penalty corners to emerge victorious over the African Champions and secure a 9-12 playoff spot.

Lilian du Plessis earned her 150th test cap at the FIH Hockey Women’s World Cup in Amsterdam today. The South Africans returned to the turf less than 18 hours after defeat to Germany and it was evident that the Irish were far better rested almost immediately.

The Irish dominated the early exchanges creating more circle entries while the African champions continued to look through the likes of Kristen Paton and Thati Zulu to lead the counterattacking display. Despite both sides best efforts the opening quarter created very little in terms of quality. South Africa’s best opportunity came from a penalty corner but the shot was well saved.

The second quarter saw an unwanted trend continue for the South Africans as they conceded a high number of penalty corners once again. Once again the defensive efforts were well co-ordinated but the weight of pressure told when the variation shot was slid wide and the diving Sarah Hawkshaw produced the moment of precision that would leave Mbande no chance in the goal.

The Irish looked the more likely to add to the score line but they were unable to do so and the half time break arrived with only one goal in the game.

The South Africans were hoping to come out firing in the second half but received a punch to the gut as Rosin Upton fired in low and hard from another penalty corner to double the lead.

Ireland received several cards in the second half but the South Africans were low on steam and were unable to take advantage of the numerical advantage with a number of opportunities being limited to half opportunities. Lilian du Plessis almost added gloss to her 150th test cap as she fired in a rasping shot that hit the side netting. It was the best chance of the game for the South Africans but they were unable to convert, a frustration for the coaching staff and players.

South Africa will next play the loser of the China and Chile game on Tuesday in the 13-16 game as they look to finish the tournament on a high. The opportunity to finish higher than the world rankings is still in the grasp for the SA Women as they begin their journey on improving their standing in the world game. Some sparks of life are starting to show.

An inspired defensive display by the South Africans almost denied Germany the victory and a place in the top 8, but a good goal from Nike Lorenz was enough to secure the Europeans a place in the Quarter Finals.

South Africa lined up against a side they have not beat since 2004 when they took on Germany in the FIH Hockey Womens World Cup Cross Over. That result was a 3-0 win on the biggest stage at the Olympic Game in Athens and the team were hoping to summon the spirit of that performance today in the Netherlands. For the winner it would be a spot in the Quarter Finals, while the loser would play in less than 24 hours against Ireland in the 9-16 bracket.

South Africa were desperate to show an improved start to the game and they contested very well in the opening exchanges, being rewarded with the games first penalty corner. Unfortunately for Giles Bonnet’s team it was an opportunity that was well defended.

Germany grew into the game and were awarded a few penalty corners but the South African defence, marshalled by co-captain Phumelela Mbande were answering questions superbly no matter the language it was asked in. At the end of the first quarter it remained scoreless.

South Africa were playing on the counterattack and looking to trouble the Germans and they did exactly that early in the quarter. Kayla de Waal was picked up one-on-one with the keeper but Julia Sonntag made a massive decision and the right save. South Africa also had a penalty corner as their early momentum looked to reap dividends. But the execution let them down and the chance went astray.

Germany started to exert their pressure on the game as they gained the possession and territorial advantage. Germany probably would be disappointed that they didn’t take the lead as they had the best opportunities of the game especially Charlotte Stapenhorst who missed a golden opportunity. At the break the teams were level without a goal being scored with South Africa the happier of the two.

Early in the second half South Africa conceded their 7th penalty corner of the game, but once again Germany fired it completely wide and the frustrated figure of Valentin Altenburg grew in that aspect. Germany were asking for a foot in the circle shortly after for another penalty corner which took a rather long referral to be awarded. But in that time Phumelela Mbande had regathered the team and was the leader of another wonderful defensive effort.

Another penalty corner was mistrapped and the opportunity was lost for Germany, but immediately they won another one. On the 10th time of asking Germany finally converted through Nike Lorenz and gave the Germans what could be described as a deserving lead. Another Penalty corner shortly afterwards gave Germany the chance to double the lead, but they wasted the chance.

It was wave after wave of German attack as they looked for a goal to take the game out of the South African reach. But as the quarter came to an end the score remained 1-0 to the Germans with Mbande and her defense keeping South Africa in the game. 15 minutes remained for both sides to change the story.

Germany looked most likely with penalty corner 11 and 12 in the first minute of the quarter but once again they snatched at the opportunity. Germany were awarded a fortuitous penalty corner after that but again kept at bay. But in truth the South Africans were failing to get any meaningful and dangerous possession.

In the end the South Africans kept the Germans at bay and did not ship any further goals but didn’t create anything and saw their hopes of a top 8 spot disappear. Instead they will have to dust off and get back up tomorrow when they take on Ireland in the 9-16 bracket.

 

South Africa secured a spot in the knockout stages of the FIH Hockey Womens World Cup in Terrassa tonight as they went down by the solitary goal to Australia. The result means South Africa finish ahead of Japan in the group on goal difference to progress above the higher ranked Asian team.

South Africa and Australia will meet in less than a month from now in the Commonwealth Games, but their minds were fully on their first meeting since the 2014 tonight in Terrassa. For Australia they had already confirmed at least a spot in the Cross Overs but knew a draw would be enough to secure top spot and direct progress into the Quarterfinals.

For South Africa the equation was fairly clear following Belgium’s 3-0 triumph over Japan. A defeat by 2 goals or any better result would secure a spot in the Cross Overs and keep the top 8 possibilities alive.

South Africa created the first meaningful opportunity of the game winning a penalty corner. The Drag Flick from Jean-Leigh du Toit was solid but fairly routine to save and the Australians surged forward in a counterattack that looked certain to find the back of the net.

They would find the back of the net though shortly afterwards as a stick tackle resulted in a penalty corner and the powerful shot from Penny Squibb deflected off of Mbande into the back of the net. Australia was dominating the possession and the South Africans were having to keep the wits about them to not give away too many goal scoring opportunities.

South Africa were awarded another penalty corner after a shot from Kristen Paton struck the foot. With Jean-Leigh du Toit off the field, Lilian du Plessis took on the drag flick duty and finished superbly to re-establish parity. It was a sublime goal from the experienced campaigner. And it remained 1-1 at the end of the first quarter.

Australia won the first penalty corner of the second quarter but the shot by Summerville was wide to the relief of the South Africans. The African champions were inviting too much pressure from the Oceania juggernauts and were desperate to get some attacking ball.

Australia had a massive opportunity on the break and Malone had a golden chance to take the lead, but she snapped at the shot. The next phase of play though resulted in a penalty corner for the Hockeyroos. Phumelela Mbande made a wonderful diving save but Malone reacted to the loose ball and fired it home superbly.

At the half time break it was 2-1 a score that probably suited both teams.

A massive moment early in the second half as Lisa Deetlefs was adjudged to bring down the attacker and despite a review from the South Africans the penalty stroke was awarded. Mariah Williams stood up on her 100th cap and inexplicably fired the ball wide despite sending Mbande the wrong way.

The South Africans earned another penalty corner but on referral danger was identified and the call was overturned. South Africa did get an opportunity though as Australia received a green card but the shot by Du Plessis was narrowly wide.

Australia won another penalty corner when Deetlefs tripped Williams, but the South Africans were able to clear but a referral saw another penalty corner awarded. This time Erin Christie was superb in charging it down and intercepting the play.

The score remained 2-1 with one quarter left and South Africa holding onto the spot in the cross overs at this point of the game.

South Africa were keeping the Australians at arm’s length with half chances the only real chances in the opening exchanges of the final quarter. In fact the next big moment was scripted in favour of the South Africans as they were awarded a penalty corner. Quick thinking by Robyn Johnson caught the Australian defenders off guard and they played the ball despite not being five.

The resultant penalty corner saw the ball bobble across to Du Plessis whose shot had enough power but was straight at the keeper for a routine save. Johnson then laid a superb ball across the goal and Bernie Coston dived through but was unable to keep the ball down. 6 minutes remained for the South Africans to confirm a place in the Cross overs.

With some great game management the African champions were able to keep the Australians at bay and in the end secured a spot in the cross overs to play Germany!

The South Africans will now fly to Amsterdam where they will take on Germany in the Cross over matches on Saturday at 17:00.

South Africa stormed back from a three-goal deficit to steal a share of the points with Japan at the FIH Hockey Women’s World Cup in Terrassa, Spain. Having trailed 3-0 with 20 minutes remaining South Africa pulled back through Kristen Paton and a Tarryn Lombard brace to share the points and keep their crossover chances alive.

After opening game defeats South Africa and Japan met up in encounter that would realistically keep one sides hopes of qualifying for the cross over matches alive. South Africa triumphed in the last meeting between the two teams winning 2-1 in 2017 in South Africa at the FIH World League. The two teams have had differing fortunes since that and it was Japan who came into the team as the favourites sitting 10th in the World Rankings, while the African Champions sit in 16th.

It was a poor start from the South Africans as they came out stuttering where the Japanese were dialled in from the get-go. It took them only three minutes to open the door and captain Yuri Nagai made no mistake of the hospitality on offer from the South Africans

Before the South Africans had enough time to digest the opening interchange, they were rubbing their eyes in disbelief as they found themselves two down. Mai Toriyama capitalised on the opportunity to give the Asians a two goal lead, which you would be hard to argue against. 

South Africa fought back superbly in the second half and were troubling the Asians with far more regularity as they thought they had won a penalty corner through Quanita Bobbs, but the referral system saw it overturned. Despite the South Africans starting to build and creating a few entries they were sucker punched by a third for Japan. The Asians won a penalty corner and despite a great save from Mbande, the rebound was put away.

Rather than denting the sails it spurred the South Africans on. Onthatile Zulu was looking dangerous as she ran at the opposition while the likes of Kayla de Waal, Kristen Paton and Bernadette Coston were growing in influence along with the effervescent Quanita Bobbs. It was Paton who brough the South Africans their glimmer of hope as she reacted instinctively after de Waal’s shot was saved and became the 26th FIH Hockey World Cup goal scorer in South African history.

The end of the third quarter came at the wrong moment for the South Africans comfortably in the ascendancy and they continued with that momentum at the start of the fourth quarter with De Waal, Paton and Coston all forcing saves from Japan. South Africa’s endeavours were awarded with a penalty corner after another good run from Zulu down the side. Agonizingly the shot was inches wide of the post from Jean-Leigh du Toit, goal scorer in the opening game.

Another penalty corner was awarded after Zulu made another great run and this South Africa punished the Japanese as the Jean-Leigh du Toit slap was superbly guided in by Tarryn Lombard to reduce the deficit to just the single goal.

With just two minutes remaining South Africa pulled Mbande off and almost immediately Kristen Paton created something out of nothing and fired just wide. The pressure continued as Thati Zulu won a penalty corner. The first one was deflected off a foot, but the re-award was converted by the South Africans as Tarryn Lombard finished again to send South African fans into crazy celebrations at home.

South Africa broke with a two on one right at the end but were unable to capitalise and at the end they had to settle for a share of the points. Despite a slow start the South Africans discovered their fighting spirit and brought the game to the Japanese and will ultimately end the game as the happier of the two teams. 

South Africa will now play Australia tomorrow to decide the final group places.