Johannesburg - A last-gasp goal from debutant striker Lauren Penny saved the SA women's hockey team's blushes as they drew 1-1 against Spain in the first of five Test matches in Randburg on Sunday.
South Africa had more than their fair share of chances but could not find the target and it appeared that Olalla Pineiro's neat first-half field goal would be the winner.
Spain, too, could have scored more than once, but they at least forced SA goalkeeper Mariette Rix into making a number of saves.
The Spanish squad started well, moving the ball fluidly, and SA captain Marsha Marescia made a number of crucial interventions in defence.
In the eighth minute, Tarryn Bright freed Marescia for the first shot of the match, but Spain came closest to opening the scoring soon after.
Midway through the opening period, world record goalscorer Pietie Coetzee got in a strong shot, followed by another soon after.
Jade Mayne, who had done the early work for Coetzee, got in an effort of her own before Dirkie Chamberlain fired just past the far post as the hosts failed repeatedly to capitalise on their opportunities.
Spain took the lead against the run of play with a well-taken Pineiro field goal 12 minutes from the break.
A great ball down the line led to the first penalty corner, but Marescia cleared, and not long after the skipper saved a near-certain goal at the post.
Five minutes after the changeover, Mayne shot wide of the far post, and a determined SA won their first and only penalty corner with 21 minutes left in the match.
Coetzee's powerful shot, after the corner set-up, was initially bungled and went wide.
Marescia then broke to the right but she also sent her shot sailing past the goalmouth.
Penny found the equaliser with four minutes left at the far post after Bright had cut through decisively.
Chamberlain fired a reverse-stick shot over the crossbar in the dying stages as the sides settled for a stalemate.
The second Test will be played in Randburg on Tuesday night.