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Face-saving win for SA

The Investec South Africa women’s hockey team saved their best till last to record an amazing 4-0 victory over world champions Argentina in the fifth and final Test match at the University of Free State hockey centre in Bloemfontein on Friday.

This was the SA women’s hockey team’s first ever victory over Argentina. South Africa led 1-0 at half-time before blasting three past the hapless Argentine goalkeeper after the changeover.

Although the series was lost 4-1, it was the South Africans who had the last laugh with an historic first triumph over the South Americans who were rattled to the point where three were sent to the sin bin in the match.

The goals came from Investec South Africa’s star, Tarryn Bright of Western Province, who netted a fantastic field goal after great build-up, as well as the world’s top goalscorer still playing today, Pietie Coetzee of Kaspersky Southern Gauteng, who scored from the penalty corner mark. This came before Free State striker Hettie Oosthuizen made her mark with a field goal in her second Test match. The final blow for the Argentineans came from Northern Gauteng Blues’ captain Kim Hubach, who repeated the Coetzee medicine from a similar set-piece play. Coetzee was later named player of the match.

One of South Africa’s group of trainers, Border coach Greg Beling, said 42 hours’ training during the national camp that began on 5 December 5 had meant the girls in green and gold were a little flat physically in the first few Tests while the Argentines were still fresh and full of running.

However, after going into their fifth Test in six days, the world champs were feeling it, while the battle-hardened SA team under captain Marsha Marescia of Kaspersky Southern Gauteng had come back recharged for the final encounter.

The South Africans had shrugged off a severe bout of gastric flu that had had a part in the 6-1 defeat in the fourth Test on Thursday. That result was a blow to SA, who were unfortunate not to come away with at least a draw in the gripping third Test, which the world champs won by a slender 2-1 margin.

The first and second Tests were also competitive affairs with SA going down 2-0 on both occasions.

Head coach Giles Bonnet’s national squad go into a punishing round of 19 Test matches against the world’s fourth-ranked China as well as Belgium and Azerbaijan in late January and early February, with the internationals taking place in Johannesburg and also at the splendid UFS hockey centre in Bloemfontein.