SA Start Champs Challenge With Tough Draw

World number 15 Ireland and the 11th ranked Investec South Africa women’s hockey team drew their opening Champions Challenge Pool B match 2-2 at Scotland’s National Hockey Centre in Glasgow Sunday after the girls in green and gold were 1-0 up at half-time.

Sulette Damons opened the scoring in the 11th minute, Ireland made a superb equaliser through Anna Flanagan in the 44th before Dirkie Chamberlain regained SA’s lead five minutes later (49th) and Audrey O’Flynn went low to the far corner in the 58th for the 2-2 final score.

“We weren’t good enough in the end zone [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][in both attack and defence] and gave away too many corners in the second half,” said SA head coach Giles Bonnet. “We created enough chances, but you’ve got to put them away if you want to win.

“I was happy with how we played to get the ball there, we had very many scoring chances, but you’ve got to score then, and that’s the difference. It would have made an interesting scoreline but the final finishing was poor today.”

SA goalscorer Dirkie Chamberlain prepares to pass as Ireland captain Megan Frazer looks on. Chamberlain’s 49th minute goal briefly put SA into the lead for the second time in the match, only for Ireland’s Audrey O’Flynn to secure an equaliser in the 58th minute. Photo: Rodrigo JaramilloThere were numerous turnovers from both sides and Ireland earned the first penalty corner in the fourth minute, SA post player Lenise Marais coolly turning away O’Flynn’s low flick towards the far corner before the South Africans made use of Damons’ extreme pace down the right, but her cross didn’t find a team-mate.

Neither team were connecting sufficient passes together, but the Irish won their second PC after a turnover in the 10th only for keeper Anelle van Deventer to save the shot comfortably.

Then SA simply exploded out of deep defence and Damons was on hand to pop in the rebound off keeper Aleisha McFerran’s pads after Kathleen Taylor’s initial shot, leaving the score 1-0 to the South Africans in the first quarter.

The passes were starting to flow, a Tarryn Bright and captain Marsha Cox combo saw the SA skipper’s through-ball down the middle ending with Damons’ powerful backhand smashing into the post and staying out.

The girls in green and gold made several entries into the strike zone but the Irish defence held firm, while at the other end SA made key recoveries from Ireland’s attacks, Quanita Bobbs, Marais, Lisa Deetlefs and Cox prominent in this department.

On two occasions towards the end of the half SA might have added to the scoreboard as they exploited the right side of the pitch. Six minutes after the changeover Bright’s top pass from the left saw Damons come agonisingly close to notching up her second, and then it was fellow striker Celia Evans’ turn from a right cross.

Nine minutes into the half Ireland equalised in fine fashion when connections between three players culminated in Flanagan’s diving deflection at the far post.

Another five minutes passed in a flash before Chamberlain put SA back in front after accurate combination play instigated from the left. Ireland then won four PCs in rapid succession and it was from the last, 12 minutes from the end that Flynn ensured the match would finish with honours even.

Winning two PCs in the last 10 minutes, SA pressed hard for the winner, the second set-piece featuring shots from Cox and Damons that were repelled, before another slick combination play resulted in Chamberlain bringing out a great save from replacement keeper Emma Gray.

Soon after, Bright might have also nailed the winner but it was not to be. “They did not have many goalshots, but we must finish, and that’s it,” Bonnet added.

SA meet world number 10 the USA at 3pm SA time Monday. The world’s 14th-ranked Spain, the other Pool B country, lost 3-1 to the USA in Sunday’s early match.

Fans can follow all the Champions Challenge action live on the International Hockey Federation’s (FIH) YouTube Channel, while you can go to the FIH’s tournament page for all the fixtures and the Twitter handle @FIH_Hockey using the #CC1 tag to catch the match updates there.


Investec South Africa (1) 2 (Sulette Damons 11th minute, Dirkie Chamberlain 49th)
Ireland (0) 2 (Anna Flanagan 44th, Audrey O’Flynn 58th)
Pool B Fixtures and Results:
27 April: South Africa 2-2 Ireland (1-0)
28 April: South Africa vs USA
30 April: Spain vs South Africa
The Starting Investec SA Team:
Anelle van Deventer
Lisa Deetlefs
Lenise Marais
Quanita Bobbs
Marsha Cox (capt)
Shelley Russell
Bernie Coston
Tarryn Bright
Dirkie Chamberlain
Sulette Damons
Celia Evans
Rolling subs:
Sanani Mangisa
Nicolene Terblanche
Illse Davids
Marcelle Manson
Kelly Madsen
Lilian du Plessis
Kathleen Taylor

Photo 1 caption: Illse Davids on attack, with Ireland’s Emily Beattie in her wake, during the 2-2 draw in the Champions Challenge at Scotland’s National Hockey Centre in Glasgow, on Sunday, 27 April, 2014. Photo: Rodrigo Jaramillo

Photo 2 caption: SA goalscorer Dirkie Chamberlain prepares to pass as Ireland captain Megan Frazer looks on. Chamberlain’s 49th minute goal briefly put SA into the lead for the second time in the match, only for Ireland’s Audrey O’Flynn to secure an equaliser in the 58th minute. Photo: Rodrigo Jaramillo


(With editing by gsport)


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