9 June 2014
It was agony and ecstasy for the South African women’s team at the Hockey World Cup in The Hague on the weekend as they crushed world number three England 4-1 on Friday before suffering a last-gasp, heart-breaking 3-4 loss to China on Sunday.
The weekend began well enough for the South African men’s team, which came within centimetres of beating South Korea from a penalty corner at the end of their contest, but had to settle for a 0-0 draw. Unfortunately, on Sunday it was a different story as the hosts, The Netherlands, blew Fabian Gregory’s charges away, winning 7-1.
The women’s win over England was an impressive outing for coach Giles Bonnet’s team, filled with passionate, hard work, and counter-attacking that tore the English defence apart time and time again.
Kathleen Taylor gave South Africa the lead after 17 minutes before Sulette Damons, playing in her 150th test, robbed a defender of the ball and then scored with a superb reverse stick shot to make it 2-0 just before the break.
In the second half, Shelley Russell rounded off a superb move with a diving deflection to extend the South African lead to three goals before Dirkie Chamberlain netted South Africa’s fourth in the 52nd minute.
England managed a consolation goal from Nicola White three minutes later, but the match ended in a convincing victory for Marsha Cox and her team.
‘I am pleased but not surprised’
“We worked hard for this result. I am pleased but not surprised by the outcome,” she said after the game.
“We started the tournament shakily, but had put a lot of focus on this game even before the World Cup, against an England side that have always given us a tough battle.”
Against China, South Africa struggled to get into the game and found themselves two goals behind at the break.
Shortly after the restart, however, Kelly Madsen reduced the deficit after being set up by Tarryn Bright.
China, though, moved back into a two-goal lead when Wang Na netted after a fine counter-attack. The result seemed done and dusted, but the South Africans were not done.
Bernie Coston struck the post with a shot, but got onto the scoresheet with eight minutes to play after following up on a shot by Taylor.
Pietie Coetzee then extended her world record with a 281st goal in her 285th test to make it 3-3.
Sadly for the South Africans, there was a late sting in the tail as Mengyu Wang scored from a penalty corner just two minutes from the final whistle to give the Chinese a hard-fought victory.
The South African men had the better of their clash with South Korea on Friday, but Korean keeper Myungho Lee prevented Austin Smith’s team from opening their goal scoring account at the tournament.
The Dutch men, backed by a stadium packed with supporters in orange, and coming off a superb 1-0 victory over Olympic champions and arch-rivals Germany, were simply too good for South Africa.
Professionals vs amateurs
The difference between a professional team and an amateur team, and between the amount of preparation time afforded the two sides for the World Cup, was plain to see as the Dutch romped to victory.
They led 4-0 at the break on goals from Seve van Ass, Valentin Verga, Jeroen Hertzberger and Robbert Kemperman and added another Kemperman goal shortly after the restart.
Not long after that, Billy Bakker made it 6-0. On the hour, though, Justin Reid-Ross netted a blistering drag flick from a penalty corner to score South Africa’s first goal of the tournament. The Netherlands, however, had the final say when Sander Baart struck their final goal five minutes from time.