On the final day of tournament at the Hartleyvale Stadium, Italy claimed 5th place with a win over Chile, Japan slipped past Spain to take bronze, and New Zealand struggled past the Southafrican home team for gold.
Ending an exciting BDO Champions Challenge I Women in Cape Town, South Africa took on New Zealand in the grand final today, a clash of what were truly the best two teams in the competition.
After a balanced start, during which South Africa had a number of good opportunities, New Zealand started to slowly pick up momentum, controlling the ball well and steadily increasing their share of ball possession. One of their forrays into their opponents' territory then saw them translate their superiority onto the score board as Anita Punt pushed the ball over the line in a crowded circle.
As the break approached, the Black Sticks took complete control of the match, and shortly before halftime, New Zealand extended their lead to two goals with a penalty corner conversion by Clarissa Eshuis.
At the re-start, South Africa returned with renewed energies however, and a free-flowing battle developped, with circle action at either end of the field. The hosts' game intensified as the clock ticked down, and New Zealand faced energetic attacks in the last 10 minutes of the match.
One of these gave South Africa a penalty corner which Kate Woods converted with a low flick, which was to be the tournament's 50th and last goal. Unaware of this fact yet, the home team set off on a high intensity campaign after the goal to put away the elusive equalizer. Spurred on by the enthusiastic supporters in a well filled stadium, the girls in green and gold created a string of chances but lacked that lucky touch, eventually running out of time.
New Zealand thus won the final in Cape Town, securing the BDO Champions Challenge I title and cup, as well as a place in the prestigious Champions Trophy tournament, which will be held in July 2010 in Nottingham in England. Bringing together the six best teams in the world, this tournament will give the Black Sticks the best possible preparation for their World Cup campaign three months later.
In the subsequent award ceremony, apart from the medals and cup, individual awards were presented to joint topscorers Farah Fredericks from South Africa and Clarissa Eshuis from New Zealand, Goalkeeper of the Tournament Mariette Rix from South Africa and Player of the Tournament Gemma Flynn of New Zealand.
Previously in the day, the team from Azerbaijan, ranked 7th in the competition already after their last match yesterday, had played an exhibition match against a Western Province invitation side, suffering a 2-4 defeat after having played their usually non-playing substitutes.
At 11 o'clock, Italy and Spain had disputed the match for 5th and 6th place. After a goalless and largely uneventful first half, Italy put their stamp on the match converting a penalty corner through Julieta Franco. The pace of the game picked up a little after the goal spell was finally broken, but still, the teams struggled to create compelling opportunities, until it was Franco again who sank the ball in the net with another penalty corner with ten minutes to go.
Fiery striker Jasbeer Singh piled on a third goal for Italy minutes later, while Chile, who attacked hectically during the final phase of the match, were denied a consolation goal. The match ended 3-0 to Italy, giving them 5th place.
In the bronze medal match, Japan had gotten the better of Spain with a late goal by Rika Komazawa. Play had mostly been even throughout the match, neither team able to gain a significant advantage, but the last quarter of an hour of the encounter was all Japan's.
Amidst a string of great opportunities, Rika Komazawa made sure Japan's oppressiveness in the late phase counted by slapping the ball over the line from a goalmouth scramble. Spain could not reply in kind, and so Japan snatched bronze while leaving the Iberians only the unlucky 4th place.
For all information on the tournament, please visit our tournament site www.bdochampionschallenge1women.sportcentric.com.
Italy - Chile 3:0 (0:0)
38' ITA - Julieta Franco (PC)
60' ITA - Julieta Franco (PC)
67' ITA - Jasbeer SINGH (FG)
Japan - Spain 1:0 (0:0)
67' JPN - Rika KOMAZAWA (FG)
South Africa - New Zealand 1:2 (0:2)
17' NZL - Anita PUNT (FG)
31' NZL - Clarissa ESHUIS (PC)
64' RSA - Kate WOODS (PC)
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