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Dirkie sets up 3-1 win

The Investec South Africa women’s hockey team won their second match on the trot in the Investec International Series when they beat the world’s 14th-ranked country, Azerbaijan 3-1 in Johannesburg on Thursday night after leading 3-0 at half-time.

At the same venue on Wednesday evening, SA had beaten Azerbaijan 4-3 in the first of a hectic 18 Test matches over the next three weeks, which will also include world No4  China and world No17 Belgium in clashes at the Randburg Astro and the University of Free State hockey centre.

The world’s 12th-ranked team went 2-0 up as early as the sixth minute and try as they might in what was a very even game, Azerbaijan were unable to recover from the setback.

Player of the match Dirkie Chamberlain reacted quickly to open the scoring after two minutes and highly experienced midfielder Tarryn Bright got the second after good work from Western Province team-mate Kathleen Taylor.

Investec SA goalkeeper Mariette Rix was called on to make a number of good saves as Azerbaijan head coach Kim Gyesoo, a South Korean, exhorted his charges on to greater effort.

Play swung to and fro as both sides threw everything into it, and the SA defence was called on to absorb much pressure. The Azerbaijanis, however, earned little from their efforts in front of goal and it was a bitter blow when the pacy Sulette Damons put the home country 3-0 up with a fine goal.

The second half saw both goalkeepers kept busy but the only goal came from Azerbaijan’s Huseynova Jiayan soon after half-time.
Friday is a rest day before Investec South Africa take on Azerbaijan in the last two Tests between the two countries in this series.

The teams face each other at Wanderers at 5pm on Saturday and at Randburg on 5pm Sunday.