SA share spoils with Australia
New Delhi - Hard-working South Africa held defending champions Australia to a 1-1 draw and moved to the top of their group in the Commonwealth Games women's hockey tournament on Friday.
South Africa, ranked 12 to Australia's six, have seven points from three Pool A matches, the same as the Aussies, but enjoy a better goal difference.
Australia, who beat India 2-1 in their previous match, took the lead in the eighth minute when forward Emily Hurtz scored a field goal but South Africa bounced back to equalise through Sulette Damons four minutes from half-time.
Three-time Olympic champions Australia pressed hard for the winner after the change of ends but South African goalkeeper Vuyisanani Mangisa pulled off some fine saves.
South Africa, who thrashed Trinidad and Tobago 12-0 before beating Scotland 2-1 in their earlier league matches, next take on hosts India on Saturday.
South African captain Marsha Marescia was all praise for the hard work that her team put in.
"It was a very tough game," she said. "Australia were better in the first half, but in the second half we dominated. We did really well in attack. We got more short corners, but some of our decisions were kind of iffy.
"We just need one more point to qualify for the semis. We have a long history with India. It will be more of a mind game than a tactical one."
Australian midfielder Kate Hollywood was dejected with the outcome.
"We fought really hard, so we're disappointed with the 1-1 draw," she said. "We think South Africa is a team we can beat convincingly.
"They pressured our defence hard. Their strikers pushed forward and closed off our options. When we broke through, we didn't get forward like we wanted to."