The Investec South Africa women’s hockey team drew the exciting second Test against Belgium 2-2 at Royal Beerschot Hockey Centre in Antwerp on Sunday.
Belgium scored first through Morgane Vouche before Nicolene Terblanche leveled the scores from a penalty corner for the half-time score. After the break Belgium went back in front when Vouche got her second field goal. The hardworking Dirkie Chamberlain pulled SA back to the 2-2 final score with 13 minutes left.
SA won the first Test 4-1 on Saturday and the third and final Test is at 11 am Monday, which gives Belgium the chance to square the series and for the tourists it’s a chance to clinch a 2-0 series victory.
There were chances aplenty at both ends and in the first half SA striker Kathleen Taylor flashed two reverse-stick shots over the crossbar. Captain Marsha Marescia cracked a rising shot that brought a glove save from Nadine Khouzam in goal.
The fast surface was a little bumpy but both sides will reflect on the number of first touches that got away. Emile Sania brought a comfortable save from SA keeper Hanli Hattingh before Belgium’s employment of the aerial pass brought dividends when Vouche put the finishing touches to a sweet move.
Taylor won SA’s first penalty corner and after Sulette Damons had her scrambled goal unfairly disallowed, there was justice when Terblanche’s shot-pass for the far post from the third consecutive set-piece deflected in off a Belgian stick.
Terblanche was outstanding at right half while unflustered centre backs Marais and Kim Hubach, together with centre midfielder Tarryn Bright made crucial tackles.
After the break Belgium’s movement was most impressive at times and a sweeping attack to the right culminated with a Charlotte Vos interchange with Vouche for the latter to score.
SA fought back and Taylor and Chamberlain came close before the latter nailed in the equaliser. Damons had an effort pulled off the line by a Belgian defender and Chamberlain brought out another Khouzam save, while Anouk Raes’s shot was wide at the other end.
It was a good effort by the world’s 12th-ranked SA who had key players Lenise Marais and Shelley Russell not 100% fit, but playing. It is particularly impressive considering world number-19 Belgium beat world number-three Germany last weekend.
After Monday’s match, the Investec SA team move across the border to Ede in Holland and two Tests against world number-one the Netherlands on Wednesday and Thursday, both at 4pm (SA time).
The whistle-stop tour that includes an incredible eight Test matches in nine days then moves across to Dublin, Ireland where three Tests will be played against Scotland on neutral territory.