This is the fourth consecutive win for the South Africans in the SPAR Hockey Festival. Having struggled against the very accomplished Dutch and German teams in the early phases of the series, SPAR South Africa is proving too strong for Canada and Ireland.
These wins are hugely encouraging for the home team who have struggled in recent times to beat teams who they are expected to beat.
SPAR South Africa began tonight’s match at a furious pace, and was very impressive throughout the first half. A near miss in the 2nd minute of the game and an unsuccessful penalty corner soon thereafter, conveyed the message that South Africa meant business.
Henna Du Buisson then brought the crowd to their feet with one of her trademark backstick goals from a very acute angle, opening the scoring for SPAR South Africa in the 8th minute.
A few minutes later Canada created a great scoring opportunity with the South African goalkeeper beaten; the Canadian striker, however, put the ball wide of the goal much to the relief of the South African defense.
After this close chance, the initiative was all with the home side for the remainder of the first half. A second goal came from a well planned penalty corner routine: Having drawn attention to the right hand side of the circle, the ball was played left to Taryn Bright, whose execution of the shot at goal gave the Canadian goalkeeper no chance.
With ten to go in the first half SPAR South Africa was at their best, playing with patience, composure and genuine attacking threat. After sustained pressure, including a number of high transfers across the width of the field, Dirkie Chamberlain neatly pulled the ball round the opposition goalkeeper to score her team’s third goal.
After such a good first half for SPAR South Africa, the second half was certainly a disappointment. Canada struggled to string more than three or four passes together and remained unable to trouble the home side, whose game also steadily deteriorated.
SPAR South Africa was not short of attacking opportunities, but was unable to replicate the quality in the final 25 metre area of the field that had characterised the first half.
SPAR South Africa’s coach, Jenny King, maintained that the difference between the two halves comes down to concentration, particularly in the midfield.
She is aware that this has been a problem for her team throughout the SPAR Hockey Festival. Also she is concerned about the inability of the team to upgrade attacking moves into corners and ultimately goals.
Nevertheless, the SPAR South African camp is in high spirits and appear to be weathering the long series better than their opponents. They are certainly expected to enjoy further success in their last two matches.
The remaining matches in the SPAR Hockey Festival being held at the University of Stellenbosch Astro Complex are SA vs Ireland (20 Jan), Canada vs Ireland (21 Jan) and SA vs Canada (22 Jan).