A Pietie Coetzee first-half hat-trick on the back of a superb start gave the South Africa women’s hockey team a 4-1 win over giant-killers Belgium in the Four Nations tournament at Club zur Vahr in Bremen, Germany Sunday.
World number 16 Belgium were coming off a shock 1-0 win over world number three Germany on Saturday but ran into an SA blitzkrieg as Coetzee nailed a second minute penalty stroke, followed by a penalty corner and field goal in the opening half hour to add to Jen Wilson’s diving deflection goal in the fifth minute.
The three goals took Coetzee’s world record to 245 in 248 Test matches, 25 ahead of the previous mark of 220.
Belgium pulled a goal back in the 27th minute and enjoyed a very strong second half but the early damage did the trick for SA.
World number 12 SA had five shots at goal and two penalty corners in the first half to Belgium’s two and one respectively but Belgium turned the tables after the changeover to win the match count with a total of 10 goal shots and four PCs to South Africa’s seven and two.
SA needed to win by five clear goals to bump Belgium into fourth place on the final day and it looked on the cards at 3-0 after 12 minutes following a dream start for the side whose excellent beginning in the 1-0 loss to world number six New Zealand on Saturday had included five very good goal shots with no reward in the first 20 minutes before the Kiwis scored with their first shot of the match. In that Test match SA had won the goal shots and PC count to deserve a draw at least.
Sunday’s blitz began in the opening minute when a superb pass from centre back Kate Woods to Kathleen Taylor out on the right saw the attacking midfielder/forward make ground under pressure, before offloading to Coetzee who was heavily fouled in the strike zone to ensure the shot from the penalty spot (1-0).
In the fifth, industrious wing back Illse Davids fed Coetzee out right and the ball into the strike zone was finished in fine style by Wilson (2-0). Seven minutes later, birthday girl Shelley Russell released Coetzee down the left after winning a turnover and the superstar striker won SA’s first PC, which she sent soaring into the net (3-0).
SA were guilty of losing possession too often in this match and in the 27th minute Belgium finally capitalised when captain Charlotte de Vos relayed the ball to Lieselotte van Lindt who fired into the danger zone for Emilie Sinia to deflect home her side’s first goalscoring opportunity (3-1). In the 27th Russell used her blistering pace and admirable control down the left channel to set up an easy finish for Coetzee (4-1).
An in-form Mariette Rix kept SA’s goal margin intact with several telling saves in the second half while defender Lenise Marais had a good game at the back, as SA’s successful strategy to limit Belgium’s opportunities to go forward in the first half all but deserted them in the second against fiercely determined opponents.
SA return home Monday night to join the Team South Africa holding camp in Pretoria.
The final match between Germany and New Zealand to determine the Four Nations winners was due to start at 2.45 pm with the host nation needing a win to end on top.
Four Nations Results: Day 1: New Zealand 4-2 Belgium; Germany 5-1 SA Day 2: Belgium 1-0 Germany; New Zealand 1-0 SA Day 3: SA 4-1 Belgium; New Zealand vs Germany SA Women’s Pre-Olympic Schedule: 24 May – RSA 1-5 GBR (Olympic Park) 25 May – RSA 0-3 GBR (Bisham Abbey) 27 May – SCO 2-2 RSA (Titwood, Glasgow) 28 May – SCO 1-2 RSA (Titwood, Glasgow) 30 May – SCO 2-4 RSA(Titwood, Glasgow) 1 June – SCO 2-5 RSA (Titwood, Glasgow) 2 June – SCO 1-4 RSA (Titwood, Glasgow) 5 June – RSA 3-1 GBR (London Cup, London) 6 June – RSA 0-1 GER (London Cup, London) 9 June – RSA 2-2 NED (NED win PS 4-2) (London Cup, London) 10 June – RSA 2-6 GER (London Cup Bronze Medal, London) 5 July – RSA 0-5 NED (Netherlands) 6 July – RSA 0-5 NED Netherlands 9 July – RSA 0-6 GBR (London) 10 July – RSA 2-3 GBR (London) 12 July – RSA 0-1 GER (4 Nations, Bremen) 14 July – RSA 0-1 NZL (4 Nations, Bremen) 15 July – RSA 4-1 BEL (4 Nations, Bremen) London 2012 Olympic Games Schedule: 16:00 29 July – ARG v RSA 08:30 31 July – RSA v NZL 16:00 2 August – RSA v GER 08:30 4 August – AUS v RSA 10:45 6 August – USA v RSA 8 August – 7th-10th Place & SF 10 August – 11th/12th, 5th/6th, Medals