The SPAR Hockey Festival at the University of Stellenbosch Astro Complex ended with a spectacular win for the home team, triumphing 5-1 over Canada. SPAR South Africa was thoroughly impressive on the night showing how much they have improved as a consequence of sustained international exposure.
After a rather slow first five minutes SPAR South Africa’s captain Marshia Marescia provided the spark that ignited the first genuine attack, when her backhand cross led to a penalty corner.
The corner involved a powerful slap by Tarryn Bright towards the penalty spot where Dirkie Chamberlain was at hand to deftly guide the ball over the sprawling Canadian goalkeeper. It was a simple corner variation executed to perfection.
The remainder of the first half was largely uneventful, other than a close chance for the Canadians involving an ominous looping shot at goal, which forced a fine save from SPAR South Africa’s goalkeeper, Mariëtte Rix.
The teams went into the half-time break with the home side 1-0 up.
The second half was characterised by a number of well-oiled penalty corner routines from SPAR South Africa, resulting in a further four goals. The final one was perhaps the best – Cindy Brown struck the ball with perfect timing and devastating force.
The South Africans were supreme throughout the second half despite a well-taken goal for the Canadians in the 51st minute of the game.
It was great to see SPAR South Africa convincingly beat an opposition that has a lower ranking, as this has been an inability plaguing the South Africans in recent times.
The South Africans were impressive in many areas of the game, and their execution of penalty corners was particularly encouraging.
The shape at the back was also better than it was in the previous game against Ireland; in Monday’s game coach Jenny King decided to play four around the back, unlike in the previous game, where a back three approach was employed.
Another positive was Tarryn Bright’s aerial flicks which did more than relieve pressure for the South Africans, and even turned into attacking opportunities.
Dirkie Chamberlain was particularly impressive for SPAR South Africa, with a good supporting performance from Marcelle Keet.
This victory over Canada brings to a close a long and successful SPAR Hockey Festival.
It is hoped that many more such feasts of international hockey will be held at the University of Stellenbosch Astro Complex, and elsewhere in South Africa.