South Africa 2 defeated Scotland 1
Goals: RSA - Kathleen Taylor PC 31m, Jen Wilson PC 60, SCO - Alison Rowett PC 12m

By Karien Jonckheere – The South African Press Association

The South African women’s hockey team booked their place in Saturday’s final of the four-nation Spar Cup after beating Scotland 2-1 in Durban last night.

The home side didn’t have an easy time of it though and had to come back from a 1-0 deficit.

South Africa dominated the first half in terms of both possession and territory but it was the Scots who scored first.

They earned themselves a penalty corner in the 12th minute and executed a variation that baffled the South African defenders. This gave the unchallenged Alison Rowett a chance to take her time in taking the shot, which eventually went through SA keeper Caroline Jack’s legs to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

Four minutes before the break, South Africa were awarded their first penalty corner and after a botched first attempt, Kathleen Taylor deflected a shot from Taryn Bright into the back of the net for the equaliser.

Bright was again involved in South Africa’s second goal of the match, which came off their third penalty corner. The initial shot went from Bright to captain Lindsey Carlisle, back to Bright and then to Jen Wilson who slotted it into the box for the 2-1 lead with 10 minutes to go.

There were some more tense moments for the Scots in the dying minutes of the game, which had the large Durban crowd fired up.

Henna du Buisson had a great chance to extend the lead with and South Africa was awarded another penalty corner with six minutes to go but neither of these led to a change in the scoreline.

“In their midfield they were tougher than our players anticipated I think so that took a bit of adjustment,” SA coach Jenny King said.

“But once we made the adjustments, from the last 15 minutes of the first half, we really dominated.”

“I think at beginning there was some unexpected pressure from them,” vice captain Marsha Marescia said.

“But we have a young team and I think it showed a lot of character to fight back and dominate until the dying minutes of the game.

South Africas’ opposition will be decided by today’s (Thursday’s) clash between Scotland and Azerbaijan at 4pm.

In the earlier match on Wednesday, Azerbaijan scored their first victory of the tournament by beating Ireland 2-1. The Azeris were first to score when Zarifahon Zeynalova slotted one in the 19th minute.

Clare Parkhill equalised for the Irish when she deflected one in off a penalty corner in the 51st. But then Azerbaijan, who had both their captain and vice captain sent off in the space of one minute in the second half, came back with another goal. It was captain Zeynab Nuriyeva who scored, from a field goal in the 61st, just three minutes before receiving her yellow card.

Apart from the Scotland vs Azerbaijan clash at 4pm, Thursday’s Spar Cup fixtures will see the South Africans playing Ireland at 6pm.  All matches are played at the Queensmead Astroturf and tickets are R10 for adults and R5 for children while learners in uniform gain free entry.