The most unpopular people during the late match at Hartleyvale Stadium in Cape Town Tuesday night were the umpires, as Australia’s Hockeyroos and the Investec South Africa women’s hockey team drew 1-1 after the scores were level 0-0 at half-time of an ill-tempered clash.
Australia’s Anna Flanagan netted a penalty corner in the 51th minute when she went for the top shelf on brilliant SA goalkeeper Sanani Mangisa’s stick-side but the blow was cancelled out eight minutes by Jade Mayne’s tip-top deflection goal off Shelley Russell’s powerful cross from the right.
After 25 seconds Bernie Coston intercepted 40 metres out, burnt her markers and fed Sulette Damons, whose cross was nearly connected by the lurking Pietie Coetzee.
SA continued to dominate and after 11 minutes Quanita Bobbs struck wide of the far post. Australia finally broke away and Fiona Boyce could have scored had it not been for the fabulous form of Mangisa in goal.
SA hit back and on-song Hockeyroos goalkeeper Ashlee Wells made a couple of quality interventions before the Aussies again broke away and won a PC at the other end, Jodie Schulz’s bullet just going wide.
Soon after, Australia were awarded another PC that SA did not agree with. First-wave Damons blocked it before yet another PC was super-saved by Mangisa.
The game became extremely tense as the South Africans and their supporters, plus the Australians to some extent, found fault with umpires Alwiene Sterk of The Netherlands and Emma Shelbourn of England. Another hotly contested PC went Australia’s way and Flanagan ripped a hard, low flick on the wrong side of the post.
The crowd went wild when Russell was repeatedly stick-checked on a remarkable 35-metre run, and the cheer was immense when SA were awarded a PC, which the Aussie defence blocked.
The second half promised to be a humdinger – and did it deliver. Coston broke away on a 40-metre run through the middle and was awarded an ultimately fruitless PC that drew protests from the bench as the South African was still in control and about to take on the keeper.
There was another howl of anger at a PC awarded to Australia at the other end, and this time Flanagan went high to Mangisa’s stick-side (1-0).
With 16 left Lisa Deetlefs cracked a cross into the strike zone and Coetzee’s delicate touch almost evaded Wells in goal. Then Australia lost a player to the sin-bin and the roof almost blew off the stadium roof as Coetzee forced a PC – but Wells was on-song once again.
The crowd erupted in the 59th minute when SA equalised after Shelley Russell cracked a cross from the right and Jade Mayne flashed her shot past a helpless keeper into the back of the net (1-1).
Coetzee (twice) and Chamberlain came close in the last five minutes but it was not to be.
SA’s next assignment is to take on the might of The Netherlands at 8pm on Thursday, a mouth-watering clash that is preceded by England facing old enemy, the Aussies, at 6pm.
Investec Challenge Fixtures and Results: Mon, 4 Feb 6pm: The Netherlands 2-2 Australia Mon, 4 Feb 8pm: South Africa 4-1 England Tues, 5 Feb 6pm: The Netherlands 4-1 England Tues, 5 Feb 8pm: South Africa 1-1 Australia Wed, 6 February: Rest Day Thurs, 7 Feb 6pm: England vs Australia Thurs, 7 Feb 8pm: South Africa vs the Netherlands Fri, 8 February: Rest Day Sat, 9 Feb 2:30pm: Semi-Final 1 Sat, 9 Feb 5pm: Semi-Final 2 Sun, 10 Feb 11:30am: Bronze Medal Match Sun, 10 Feb 2pm: Gold Medal Match