In a hugely encouraging performance the Investec South Africa women’s hockey team drew a high-scoring international 5-5 in the first of two Test matches against the world’s number one women’s hockey nation Holland in Arnhem, Holland on Tuesday night.
The Dutch side led 3-2 at half-time and 5-3 as the clock began to wind down but captain Marsha Marescia’s SA girls finished strongly to level matters five minutes from the final whistle.
Attacking midfielder Shelley Russell of Western Province scored a goal in each half (including the crucial equaliser) with the others going to world record goalscorer Pietie Coetzee of Southern Gauteng and her fellow forwards Sulette Damons of North West and Western Province’s Kathleen Taylor.
The Boksburg-born former SA national player Marilyn Agliotti got a brace for the reigning Olympic Games champions with the other Dutch goals going to national players Claire Verhage (2) and Eva de Goede.
SA meet the Dutch in the second test at 12 noon on Wednesday.
Meanwhile the South African men’s hockey team’s Pre-Champions Challenge warm-up match against Malaysia was called off after 15 minutes when a torrential downpour and lightning engulfed the Randburg Hockey Stadium on Tuesday night. The score was 1-1 at that stage.
The SA men meet Japan on Wednesday evening in their final warm-up match before they face Poland and eight-time Olympic Games gold medallists India on Saturday and Sunday respectively in their opening Pool A matches of the prestigious 8-nation Champions Challenge tournament that is being staged at the Randburg Hockey Stadium from Saturday to next Sunday.