The South Africa women’s hockey team put in a much-improved performance in their 3-2 defeat by world number four Great Britain at Bisham Abbey Tuesday night.
It wasn’t easy to bounce back after Monday’s 6-0 loss in the first unofficial Test match but captain Marsha Marescia’s girls in green gold did just that, coming back from a 3-1 half-time deficit to push hard for victory before going out by the odd goal in five.
GB opened the scoring after 11 minutes through a soft, yet well-taken effort against the run of play that was finished off by the influential Chloe Rogers.
The London 2012 hosts went 2-0 up from their first penalty corner four minutes later, Crista Cullen firing at the far post for corner injector Ashleigh Ball to deflect in.
Worse was to come when left-side striker Sulette Damons hobbled off after being struck a fearful blow to the foot, but SA soldiered on and seven minutes from half-time world record goalscorer Pietie Coetzee pulled a goal back with her team’s second PC, which she steered low to GB keeper Beth Storry’s right (2-1). This was after defender Lenise Marais had intercepted to set up SA’s first PC in combination with Coetzee.
However, GB regained their two-goal cushion soon after when the outstanding Chloe Rogers shrugged off tackles in a crowded area near the right baseline before World All Stars 2011 striker Alex Danson finished off from close (3-1).
Keeper Mariette Rix made several good saves in the match to keep SA in the game, and penalty corners three- and four soon after the changeover culminated in a powerful Kate Woods slap shot, bringing the scoreline to 3-2.
Damons finally returned to the fray after treatment and the match heated up considerably as both sides went in search of victory but it was GB who finished the match the better side on the night, Marais saving a PC on the line, although SA won the PC count 5-4.
There was much good for world number 12 South Africa to take out of the match against their more illustrious opponents and it stands SA in good stead as they head into the Four Nations in Bremen, Germany where they play the hosts on Thursday, New Zealand on Saturday and close off the 12-day tour against Belgium on Sunday.
SA pre-Olympics matches (SA time): 5 July 16:00 SA 0-5 Holland 6 July 11:00 SA 0-5 Holland 9 July 12:00 SA 0-6 Great Britain 10 July 19:00 SA 2-3 Great Britain 12 July 19:45 SA vs Germany 14 July 16:00 SA vs New Zealand 15 July 12:00 SA vs Belgium