The packed grandstand at Hartleyvale was treated to some thrilling hockey on Sunday but there were mixed feeling about the results, as the Investec South Africa women’s team went down 2-0 to Chile while the SA men rallied superbly to draw 2-2 with Ireland, writes Jon Cook.
Chile scored through Francisca Vidaurre via a penalty corner in the ninth minute to lead 1-0 at half-time before adding another in the 49th after another long spell defending their goals when a fast breakout brought a brilliant save by replacement keeper Hanli Hattingh but lively Manuela Urroz roofed the rebound in spectacular fashion.
The revved-up Chileans have tied the series 1-1 after SA won the first Test 4-2 last week.
To be fair, a young, talented yet relatively untried SA side went into this match. They were minus about 900 Test caps’ worth of experience as battle-hardened soldiers in this squad – Sanani Mangisa, Anelle van Deventer, Lisa Deetlefs, Sulette Damons, Marcelle Manson, Bernie Coston and Jade Mayne – were all rested.
SA certainly had passages of excellent play in both attack and defence but it was not enough to make a difference on the day.
It sets up a fascinating third Test on Monday evening, while the fourth and final Test is Tuesday at 6.30pm.
The Irish men’s short, sharp passing in confined areas led to goals from Michael Darling in the 19th minute and Alan Sothern in the 22nd for a 2-0 lead at half-time.
The determined South Africans, boosted by their vociferous fans, fought their way back into the game and penalty corner strikes in the 40th by Jethro Eustice and Brandon Panther in the 57th – three minutes from the end – sets up a thriller at Hartleyvale in Monday’s second and final Test (7pm). At Stellenbosch University on Monday, the Dutch and Belgian men meet at 3pm.
There were passages of brilliant goalkeeping by all four South African keepers in Sunday’s Tests – and SA men’s replacement keeper Gowan Jones proved the point that on some occasions the last line of defence does indeed play a major role in the final outcome.
The mammoth Cape Town Summer series ends on 2 February at Hartleyvale.
Picture of SA’s Tiffany Jones, courtesy of Matt Withers