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Kim, Dirkie strike for SA

The in-form Investec South African women’s hockey side notched up their 13th victory in 14 matches on Wednesday night when they beat fourth-ranked China 2-1at the University of Free State hockey centre in Bloemfontein.

The score was 1-1 at half-time folowing successful strikes from penalty corners by Kim Hubach and China’s Gao Lihua and SA’s Dirkie Chamberlain scored the winner 10 minutes into the second half.

More good news for head coach Giles Bonnet and the SA contingent was their hearing that superstar striker Pietie Coetzee has put her paramedic degree studies to one side temporarily to fit in an extra Test match and the scorer of 209 goals in 214 Tests will be in the starting line-up to meet China in Thursday night’s next clash (7pm).

The Wednesday match was held back 30 minutes due to dangerous weather conditions and the lightning that flashed across the heavens was an omen for a combustible clash.

SA opened the scoring three minutes into the match. A slip left from the first penalty corner found Hubach, whose inch-perfect drag-flick ballooned the net.

China came back strongly and were impressive in their build-up. They were rewarded in the 14th minute as a similar set-piece penalty corner resulted in Lihua managing to get past in-form SA keeper Hanli Hattingh, who had just a moment before pulled off a stunning stick save low to her right from China’s ace in the pack, Ma Yibo.

SA finished the half with intent and Chamberlain and Tarryn Bright were unfortunate that nothing more came of their opportunities in the Chinese circle.

The second half saw SA go 2-1 up as a consequence of some thoughtless Chinese indiscretions.

Sun Zhen was sin-binned and SA enjoyed three penalty corners in a row, the third of which was netted on the rebound by Chamberlain. The 45th minute goal proved to be the winner.

The Chinese looked very sharp in training Wednesday morning and the general consensus was that the day’s clash might be the most testing yet for the South Africans.

China head coach Wang Zhongjun was barking out orders and the players responded to the staccato messages with vigour, which suggested the Asian Games champions felt the time was right to lower South Africa’s colours.

World number 12 SA beat world number four China 5-1 in the Johannesburg phase of the Investec International Series and also whitewashed world number 14 Azerbaijan 5-0.