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Dirkie does it for SA

The Investec South Africa women’s hockey team got back on track after Thursday’s defeat to China and were worthy 1-0 victors against the world’s fourth best side China at the Wanderers Club Astro in Johannesburg on Friday night.

Dirkie Chamberlain netted a top-class goal in the 10th minute and 12th ranked South African now take a 3-1 lead in the Investec International Series between the two teams.

Tarryn Bright set up striker Chamberlain of Northerns Blues, who was quick to react in beating China’s quality goalkeeper Li Ji from close.

South Africa’s defence was sound and the side was superbly led by midfielder Marsha Marescia who piloted the team through some tricky moments after half-time.

South Africa’s star goalscorer, Pietie Coetzee, had her moments but Ji would have nothing of the hockey legend’s quest for her 208th goal in just 213 Tests. But it appears as if the superstriker’s overhauling the world record 220 goals set by Natella Krasnikova of Russia is not a question of if, but when.

A host of South Africans got their shots in but there was no way through the China keeper on the night. That is not to say it was one-way traffic, and SA keeper Mariette Rix was called on a number of times to get in the way of outstanding Chinese striker Zhang Xiaoxue’s efforts.

The fifth and sixth Tests are at Kaspersky Randburg Hockey Stadium. The start time is 5pm on both Saturday and Sunday. Azerbaijan will be facing Belgium at 3pm on each day.

Thereafter, the Investec International Series heads to the University of Free State hockey centre in Bloemfontein for another bout of Test matches beginning Tuesday next week.