Holland thrash SA women
Amsterdam - Reigning Olympic Games champions Holland beat the spirited Investec South African women's hockey team 8-2 after leading 5-1 at half-time in the first Test in Amsterdam on Tuesday.
There was some cheer for the world's 12th-ranked team when superstar forward Pietie Coetzee netted her 216th goal in 220 Test matches, leaving the South African just five strikes short of breaking Russian Natella Krasnikova's two decades-old world record.
South Africa scored just 16 seconds into the match when Jen Wilson beat the keeper after a pass from Tarryn Bright, but it served to galvanise the Dutch into action and they put five top-class goals into the net before half-time.
The second half was a testimony to the South Africans' fighting spirit with Holland shading the girls in green and gold 3-1 as SA head coach Giles Bonnet tightened up his side's playing pattern.
Holland, now the world's No 2 hockey nation after their defeat by Argentina in the 2010 World Cup final, gave a display of precision and control as they dictated the course of the match and it leaves South Africa with much to think about ahead of the second and final Test on Wednesday night.
The South Africans are using the matches as preparation for the Champions Challenge tournament involving the teams ranked ninth to 16th in the world and which takes place in Dublin, Ireland from June 18 to 26.
After they had opened the scoring, South Africa found themselves under enormous pressure in the defensive third of the field and the Boksburg-born former South African Marilyn Agliotti equalised with a reverse-stick shot from the top of the circle. The leveler came just after SA goalkeeper Mariette Rix had made a fine glove.
Kim Lammers put Holland into the lead on the quarter-hour mark as the remarkable control of the Dutch threatened to overwhelm the gutsy South Africans.
On the half-hour Eva de Goede gave Holland a two-goal cushion. SA earned a penalty corner but Coetzee's well-struck shot went wide of the post and two more Dutch goals followed via the sticks of Lammers and captain Maartjie Pauman, whose penalty corner rather fortuitously deflected off a South African stick.
Despite Agliotti's second goal and Claire Verhage's brace, South Africa had far more of the second half. Fleet-footed SA striker Sulette Damons got in two shots at goal from good positions before Coetzee made her mark with number 216.