The South African women’s hockey side will be looking to build on their first Test victory when they clash with Ireland at Hartleyvale on Tuesday evening (start 7pm).
National coach, Jenny King, Monday said despite her side’s 4-0 win at Stellenbosch on Sunday, there was a need to sharpen up in several areas of the team’s performance. "We were pleased with the win but we need to improve on a few aspects of our game," said King.
"We had to control most of the game but the Irish managed to penetrate down the right flank. On Tuesday, we will need to restrict Ireland’s entry into the circle and ensure we manage to repeat the first Test result."
South Africa will be without the influential Kathleen Taylor, who had a hand in two of her side’s four goals on Sunday. The WP workhorse is nursing an injury but is expected to be fit for Friday’s third Test at Stellenbosch.
The fourth Test will be played on Saturday at Hartleyvale. "We’re in the off-season at this time and it’s good that team is showing excellent form. There is quite a busy schedule ahead, starting with a tour to Argentina in a few days’ time."
The SPAR SA team will play in a four-nations tournament with hosts Argentina, Germany and the United States, starting on January 23 and ending January 27.
All three opposition teams are above SA (12) on the world rankings with Argentina, the best placed at No 2. Germany and United States are slotted in at No 3 and 11 respectively.
Meanwhile, the Irish (world-ranked at No 14) have regrouped after taking another pasting in a second tour match on Sunday, when they were defeated 4-1 by the visiting Dutch under 21 side.
Ireland’s South African-born coach Gene Muller will be looking for an improved display from his charges on Tuesday evening. He felt the 4-0 first Test scoreline did not quite do justice to his team’s performance.
"The score was frustrating for us as we did so many things well, we had the same amount of corners and circle entries as South Africa, but play in both circles let us down."
Ireland will be using the tour to boost their chances in an Olympic qualifier taking place in Canada, at the end of April. The women’s hockey matches starts in mid-August at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.