The Investec South Africa women’s hockey went into a remarkable sixth Test match in seven days when they took on Scotland at the National Hockey Stadium in Dublin Friday evening.
Scotland won the match 4-3 after they had led 2-1 at half-time through penalty corners by Niki Kidd and Samantha Judge, while Jade Mayne smashed a delightful reverse-stick goal in between. The Scots’ second-half goals came from Ailsa Wyllie and captain Linda Clement while Kathleen Taylor and Mayne replied for SA.
Owing to studies and injury, the young SA side are missing four players with 700 Test caps between them, including world record goalscorer Pietie Coetzee.
In the opening minutes Marcelle Keet fed Taylor, whose snap shot was well saved by Scotland’s number two goalkeeper Amy Gibson. At the other end, Kidd forced the first penalty corner and she netted a soft goal that SA should have dealt with (1-0). Then SA number two keeper Hanli Hattingh did well to block close-range shots from Great Britain player Vikki Bunce and Judge.
Scotland distributed the ball with width and precision and earned a second and third penalty corner, Hattingh saving from Judge and then Wyllie. SA finally broke away and Tarryn Bright fed Illse Davids, with Sulette Damons coming close to equalising. Damons then released Taylor down the right wing and her strong cross was inches from Cindy Botha’s outstretched stick, while a play later Davids came close to punishing the Scots.
Six minutes from half-time, Kelly Madsen did well to find Mayne, who nailed the equaliser (1-1). But two minutes later Judge restored Scotland’s lead - her side’s fourth penalty corner might well have been stopped on another day - to leave the half-time score 2-1.
Damons twice came close soon after the re-start, while Madsen also got in a shot and Mayne brought out a good save by Gibson, but Scotland’s sixth penalty corner brought another soft goal, this time by Wyllie (3-1).
Then Scotland scrambled away close-in shots by Taylor and Damons before Taylor’s opportunism pulled one back for SA. Trailing 3-2 with 15 minutes left the outcome was up in the air. A magnificent 50-metre run up the left by fleet-footed Damons deserved more, before Taylor got in another shot shortly after. Then Dirkie Chamberlain was close before Kim Hubach’s drag-flick from SA’s first penalty corner was gloved away by Gibson. Keet and Taylor earned SA’s second corner with five minutes left, but Gibson blocked Bright’s slapshot.
However Scotland’s eighth corner brought bountiful reward once again when Clement converted for 4-2 before Mayne pulled one back 35 seconds from full-time for 4-3. Taylor was on the cusp of converting a remarkable equaliser when the final hooter sounded.
The Investec South Africa hockey women meet Scotland in the second Test at 3.15 pm (SA time) Saturday with the third and final Test at 11.15 am (SA time) Sunday.
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