SA opened the scoring when a Lisa Deetlefs penalty corner strike (PC) was deflected with pinpoint precision high into the net by Candice Manuel. The South Africans, capitalising on turnovers, earned six shots at goal to Ireland’s one in the first half.
Ireland coach Darren Smith said SA had improved with every game, borne out by the fact they had lost 4-1 to the Irish on the opening day.
SA were stronger physically than Ireland on a very hot day and head coach Sheldon Rostron’s half-time wish for a repeat performance in the second half came true.
The Irish won their first PC four minutes after half-time and Jade Mayne made a crucial save on the goalline from captain Megan Fraser’s drag-flick.
Soon after, in-form Ireland keeper Ayeisha McFerran did well to keep out Dirkie Chamberlain and Mayne. At the other end, SA keeper Sanani Mangisa was excellent in saving from Katie Mullan.
As the match wore on, Bernie Coston made a number of incise breaks down the left and right flanks that put the Irish defence under enormous pressure. Coston earned SA’s fourth PC and Deetlefs’ sizzling slap shot curved away from the keeper into the backboard for the team to go 2-0 up in the 43rd minute.
SA continued to transfer pressure onto the Irish defence in the fourth and final quarter of 15 minutes and Line Malan combined to great effect with Coston down the right to set up a Chamberlain shot. At the other end, Mangisa produced a top save from Anna O’Flanagan’s effort.
After SA had won yet another turnover, striker Lilian du Plessis made the game safe in the 62nd minute with one of the goals of the tournament, a flashing reverse-stick shot into the top corner from the edge of the strike zone.
Four minutes from full-time (56th) the dazzling stickwork and layoff of Tanya Britz set up another goalscoring opportunity and Kelly Madsen, under considerable pressure from the Irish defence, was superb in steering the ball over the goalline for the 4-0 final score.
South Africa’s outside chance of qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games through the World League route was dealt a blow when they lost 2-0 to Spain on Saturday. The defeat came in the weekend’s first round of playoffs to determine fifth to eighth positions.
After their 2-0 quarter-final defeat to Great Britain on Thursday dashed South Africa’s chances of a semi-final berth, as well as a possible top three finish and automatic qualification for Rio 2016, a fifth place finish in Valencia would have given SA a glimmer of hope, depending on the outcome of the various continental championships later this year.
The South African Sports Congress and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) had indicated that qualifying through the Africa continent was not of sufficient standard to justify their sending the girls in green and gold to Rio.
Against Spain, goals from Alicia Magaz in the fourth minute and Lola Riera in the 11th proved the difference, while SA weren’t able to finish off some very good opportunities in a dominant second half.