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SA women defeat Belgium

2012-01-26 21:06
Barbara Nelen of Belgium and SA's Shelley Russell (Gallo Images)
Randburg - The Investec South African women’s hockey team beat Belgium 2-1 in the Test match here on Thursday night.

Belgium opened the scoring when Sofie Gierts slipped the ball past SA goalkeeper Mariette Rix after just 25 seconds.

SA equalised in the 10th minute when Tarryn Bright’s pass into the strike zone was helped past Belgian goalkeeper Aisling D’Hooghe by Kathleen Taylor. The winner came with 25 minutes left after Bright’s penalty corner rocket.

The Tri-Nations Series starts at 14:00 at the Randburg Stadium on Saturday when SA face Ireland before facing Belgium at the same time on Sunday.

Head coach Giles Bonnet was without several top players in the likes of world record goalscorer Pietie Coetzee, 2004 and 2008 Olympian Kate Woods and the silky-skilled Lesle-Ann George to name some, as he had a last look at certain players before the team for the Olympic Qualifier in Delhi is named at the 11.30 press conference in Randburg on Friday.

The SA team did a good job, earning 10 penalty corners to one and getting more shots on goal.

Belgium made an electric start, the ball passing through six sticks before Gierts put the Europeans 1-0 up just 25 seconds into the match. SA’s first two corners went awry and Belgium’s good running on-and-off the ball ensured that Erica Coppey had a good opportunity before Bright and Taylor combined for the equaliser.

Belgian umpire Laurine Delforge and her South African colleague Annelize Rostron were kept busy in both strike zones as play was transferred at pace from one end to the other.

SA’s flowing movement presented captain Marsha Marescia with an opportunity before a stunning left-right diagonal run by the pacy Shelley Russell won the girls in green and gold’s third PC. The fourth PC came and went while at the other end Jill Boon’s shot was blocked by Rix with just the keeper to beat and Celia Evans, in her 50th international for South Africa, was twice denied.

SA were unfortunate not to go ahead from their fifth and sixth corners just after the changeover as several shots were fired at D’Hooghe but in the 45th minute it was lucky No 7 that did the trick as Bright’s shot scorched the turf (2-1).

Belgium survived corners eight, nine and 10 before winning their first and Rix made a top-class glove save from Boon’s reverse-stick rocket.

Belgium face Ireland in the last warm-up international at 19:00 on Friday here.

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