SA women beat GB in ‘fantastic’ encounter

2012-06-06 00:00

AN outstanding Investec South Africa women’s hockey team, superbly led by Marsha Marescia, beat world number four Great Britain 3-1 after leading 2-0 at half-time on the first day of the Investec London Cup in Chiswick yesterday.

South Africa’s Sulette Damons and Bernie Coston scored brilliant first-half goals. Forward Jen Wilson added to the scoresheet 12 minutes from time. Susannah Gilbert replied for GB six minutes from the end, but it was too little too late.

“It was a fantastic win in difficult conditions,” said SA assistant coach Fabian Gregory. “Our defence was outstanding, as they put us under pressure at times. While we would have liked more opportunities, we took our chances.”

“It came down to who wanted it more,” said Marescia. “There was a calmness on the field when GB came back at us and we knew we could keep our lead.”

In the fifth minute, Marescia fed Shelley Russell, who returned the pass at the right moment. Marescia then freed up striker Damons, who cracked a sizzling shot from the top of the strike zone past world-rated GB goalkeeper Beth Storry to take the early lead.

At the other end, South Africa’s outstanding defensive work kicked into gear when a composed Kate Woods got SA out of a tight spot, and then Russell shepherded an attacker out of harm’s way.

Lisa Deetlefs, Lenise Marais and goalkeeper Mariette Rix were among those who made critical tackles in defence during this enthralling match.

In the 10th minute, Marescia embarked on a scything left-right diagonal run and lay-off to Coston cutting in from the right, and the forward smoked a stunning strike into the roof of the net to make it 2-0. SA’s counter-attacking was superb and caught the GB team — who are rated as serious gold medal contenders at the 2012 London Olympics — off guard on a number of occasions.

Great Britain were missing captain Kate Walsh and fellow central defender Crista Cullen, as well as Sarah Thomas and stellar striker Alex Danson, but this win will do South Africa a power of good.

SA meet world number three Germany at 9 pm (SA time) today in a match that will be televised live on SuperSport 6. With just the Germany match left in the pool, SA are in the pound seats to get into Saturday’s semi-finals.

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