Glasgow - Defending champions and world number two Australia outplayed 11th-ranked South Africa 7-1 after leading 2-0 at half-time in the semi-finals of the Commonwealth Games women’s hockey tournament in Glasgow on Friday.
SA’s key players had spent far more time on the pitch than the Hockeyroos during the teams’ four Pool matches apiece in the preceding eight days, which cost the African champs dearly after half-time. Unforced errors also played a big part in the lion’s share of Australia’s goals.
SA now need to wipe the slate clean and focus on the bronze medal match which is at 19:00 (SA time) on Saturday.
The ’Roos went immediately on the attack and a second penalty corner inside two minutes was again bravely blocked by first wave defender Bernie Coston.
Left-side defender Lenise Marais made a key tackle as Australia poured forward once again, the defending champs making a great start and SA under huge pressure.
In the 12th minute a promising move might have brought SA’s first PC.
With Jade Mayne and Dirkie Chamberlain looking good up front, an exciting move down the right two minutes later saw captain Marsha Cox’s side come very close to opening the scoring.
However the alert Aussies went 1-0 up through Emily Smith in the 16th minute following a slick move so characteristic of the 2014 World Cup finalists.
The underdogs were unfortunate not to equalise from the re-start, before Tarryn Bright, playing an influential role in the SA midfield, was instrumental in winning a PC in the 20th but Lisa Deetlefs' slap shot was well defended.
Against the run of play in the 22nd, Georgia Nanscawen did well to drive into the strike zone and get a shot away, Kellie White connecting with a tip-in at the far post for 2-0.
SA suffered disappointment when Chamberlain’s effort after Illse Davids’ initial shot was cleared off the goalline by Ana Flanagan. Chamberlain then appealed in vain for what looked to be a legitimate PC decision. Soon after, SA had a PC award overturned and the rub of the green was not going their way.
In the 26th Marais stopped an Aussie PC effort at the far post in fine fashion and made another vital intervention in field play soon after.
Towards the end of the half, Nicolene Terblanche was superb in winning a PC for SA but the Hockeyroos repelled Deetlefs’ slap shot and the Australians continued to defend very well in the face of a number of promising attacking movements by the South Africans.
SA’s Celia Evans made a superb tackle soon after but in the 47th White made use of an excellent piece of play from Smith to stretch the Aussie lead to 3-0.
And two minutes later (49th) Georgie Parker made no mistake from Nanscawen’s pass. In the same minute Brooke Peris ran superbly before Jane Claxton tipped in at the far post for 5-0 with 19 minutes left.
Australia at this point had converted five from 11 goalshots while SA had recorded nought from five attempts.
But the fighting spirit of the SA side knows no bounds and in the 53rd a driving run by Sulette Damons down the right saw her accurate pass off the right foot reach Evans at the far post, whose tap-in resulted in the ’Roos conceding their first goal in the event after a remarkable four shutouts in the Pool matches (5-1).
At four goals down with 15 minutes left SA kept pushing to reduce the margin but Parker collected Ashleigh Nelson’s pass to put the ’Roos 6-1 up in the 57th.
Three minutes from the end (67th) Nanscawen drilled in her side’s seventh goal and the razor-sharp Roos had nailed down a remarkable 50% of the 14 goalshots they had created.