SA hockey women drawn against Oz in semi-finals

2013-02-08 00:00

THE cards have been drawn for tomorrow’s semi-finals of the Investec Challenge following last night’s thrilling action at Hartleyvale Stadium in Cape Town.

Australia edged England 3-1 and The Netherlands bettered the Investec South African women’s hockey team by the same scoreline.

Both matches saw the winners lead 1-0 at half-time and featured constant bombardment of each goalmouth.

They also featured superlative saves by the world-class keepers.

The Netherlands will meet England (playing as Great Britain) in tomorrow’s semi-final at 2.30 pm and the Hockeyroos of Australia will square up to the girls in green and gold at 5 pm.

The difference in the matches came at penalty corner time. The Australians directly scored two PCs, a feat that was repeated by The Netherlands. While SA did score from a PC rebound, it was the direct PC drag-flicks in both attack and defence that were the trump cards — or the match losers — for the four teams.

There was frustration, too, for world record sharpshooter Pietie Coetzee, who went scoreless for the second match in a row, despite firing in her shots from all angles and spaces in the strike zone.

On any other day Coetzee would have scored a hatful. Her team-mates are also creating enough chances of their own, suggesting that Investec SA head coach Giles Bonnet, his trainers and the team are well on the road to Rio 2016, not to mention Hockey World Cup 2014 in The Hague and 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

This Netherlands team are very, very good — their ability to more or less keep SA’s hungry attackers at bay for long periods is coupled with gold medal quality at scoring goals when it matters.

If the Hockeyroos’ bruising 1-1 draw with SA on Tuesday night is the blueprint — a match in which high-class skills were mixed with sickening collisions, much claret and fine stitching — the late semi-final between the Lucky Country and the Rainbow Nation is certain to draw crowds in even bigger numbers than last night’s great turnout.

The Netherlands’ goals last night came from penalty corners by Irene van den Assem and captain Maartje Paumen (two), while SA captain Marsha Marescia was the only one who had her name ticked on the scoresheet.

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