SA hockey women earn draw
Dublin - The Investec South Africa women's hockey team came back from a 2-0 halftime deficit to draw 2-2 with Scotland on day one of the Champions Challenge in Dublin on Saturday.
Superstar striker Pietie Coetzee edged closer to the world record of 220 with her 217th goal in 222 Test matches, SA team-mate Illse Davids netted a superb deflection, while Louise Baxter and Nikki Kidd got on the scoreboard for Scotland.
"Scotland's first-half goals put us on the back foot and we could have made more of our chances in the second half," said SA head coach Giles Bonnet.
As a precaution, SA rested captain Marsha Marescia and team-mate Marcelle Keet, while in-form number two keeper Sanani Mangisa started.
The icy rain did little to slow the frenetic pace and on the quarter hour captain for the day Lesle-Ann George earned SA's first PC, from which Coetzee's shot was blocked by keeper Abi Walker.
Shortly after, Coetzee won SA's second PC and the variation with Lisa Deetlefs led to a narrow escape for the Scots. However, Scotland were transferring the ball with impressive speed and left-side SA defender, the skilful Celia Evans, didn't have it all her own way on her 21st birthday.
SA striker Dirkie Chamberlain broke free but the keeper was up for it and almost immediately Louise Baxter pounced on a loose ball in the strike zone and pounded it past the outstretched leg of Mangisa to put Scotland into the lead (1-0).
On the halftime hooter Scotland won a PC during a goalmouth melee and Nikki Kidd fired a low flick into the left-side backboard for the underdogs to turn around 2-0 up.
The frenetic pace continued after the changeover and SA forwards Kathleen Taylor and Jen Wilson had opportunities, while replacement keeper Mariette Rix and her defence made crucial interventions.
Coetzee got in three shots in close proximity and once she earned SA's third PC, the goal machine made no mistake to pull one back (2-1) with 17 minutes left.
The girls in green and gold won two consecutive corners and Davids deflected in a pinpoint Coetzee pass high into the webbing for the equaliser with 11 minutes still to play (2-2).
SA kept on peppering the Scots' circle and two PC's resulted but Walker was in top-class form to deny the rampant South Africans.
South Africa meet tournament favourites Japan at 2 pm (SA time) on Sunday, with the Japanese grinding out a 2-1 win over the USA in the early match.