Oz Square 3-Test Series

by | Oct 20, 2007

Australia have leveled the three-Test SPAR Challenge series to
nullify South Africa’s opening encounter win, when
Hope Munro scored
the second Test’s sole goal
at the Tshwane University of Technology on Friday evening,
with the final test to be played in Randburg on Saturday afternoon.

South Africa strove mightily but went down 1-0
to Australia
to leave the series perfectly poised, with the home side having won the first test
2-1 in Randburg on Wednesday night.

The impressive
TUT stadium was forced to withstand torrents of rain throughout the match and
it was to the credit of both sides that they managed to produce a fast-paced,
exciting Test match.

The sides were
eventually separated by a defensive mix-up in the 24th minute that saw the
Hockeyroos attack at pace and the outstandingly skilful Hope Munro, a mother of
two, slashed a magnificent goal into the top right-hand corner of the net past
a helpless Mariette Rix.

The match
reinforced the cliché of a game of two halves as Australia
dominated the opening half while Spar SA controlled the second stanza both
territorially and in terms of possession.

SA goalkeeper Rix
made a superb one-on-one save two minutes before the lone goal of the match,
following a superb combination between Munro and Madonna Blythe.

Although the
Aussies were on top for the initial 35 minutes, SA managed to get in a couple
of meaningful shots at goal through striker Henna du Buisson and Kate Hector
from the single home penalty corner.

The Aussies won two first-half penalty corners in the last minutes
before the changeover, but first-wave defender Fiona Butler did well to deflect
captain Emily Halliday’s effort away from danger.

"We realised
in the second half that we needed to do what Marsha had been doing and that’s
when we started putting some pressure on them in the middle," said SA coach
Jenny King, "I was pleased with our second half effort, but we didn’t
create enough chances."

The Hockeyroos counter-attacked extremely quickly and
effectively after earning a turnover, and the ability of their strikers to run
laterally to latch on to accurate passes was a feature of the first half.

SA turned things
round after the break by closing down the Australian midfield’s space and being
more assertive going into the tackle, and the effect on the momentum of the
game was marked.

Captain Marsha
Marescia was at the forefront of the turnaround along with her deputy Kate
Hector. As a result the midfield battle was won and SA could well have drawn
level and even taken the series, as Murray
pointed out, but goal-scoring opportunities were difficult to come by as the
visitor’s defense bore down.

Stand-in captain Halliday
was named player of the match by the adjudicator, former SA captain Lindsey
Wright (nee Carlisle), in a performance that
also drew glowing praise from Aussie coach Frank Murray.

"We intend
to go out with even more determination and intensity, so that we can leave the
country on a good note," said the skipper, "South Africa have
improved since we last played them a few months ago in Beijing, but I’m
confident of our chances."

Still, the Hockeyroos won the PC count 4-2 and deserved the
final result, which makes the third Test at 3.30 pm Saturday in Randburg a
tantalising prospect.

As SA
vice-captain Kate Hector pointed out at the press conference, the Spar SA side
drew much confidence from their second-half effort, while Aussie skipper
Halliday was equally upbeat about her team’s chances come 3.30 pm Saturday. 

 

SPAR
Challenge, SA vs Australia Women’s Hockey Test Series – Tshwane University of
Technology Hockey Stadium

Friday,
19th October 2007

 

Results:

SPAR
South Africa 0
,
Australia
1


Australia
Goal Scorer
: Hope Munro (24th min)


Player
of the Match:
Emily
Halliday (Australia)

 

Fixtures:

Saturday,
20th October – 15h00: 3rd Test Match (Final)


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