Supergroup South Africa took to the field to Lee Valley Tennis and Hockey club with only one thing on their mind. Victory against Spain was the best opportunity for Sheldon Rostron’s side to progress to the knock-out stages of the FIH Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup.
The side had shown glimpses of their game play ability in the opening game but were unable to convert chances and lost the midfield battle. Missing Nicolene Terblanche was going to make the challenge in the midfield even more daunting for the South Africans. The co-captain had been ruled out due to the concussion she received when she took a ball to the head in the opening game.
Rostron would have wanted his team to show a dedicated start to the game, but it took just Spain’s Red Sticks a few minutes to exert their dominance. That dominance was converted into a 2-0 advantage, with Lola Riera’s unstoppable penalty corner drag-flick into the top right corner being complimented by a wonderful passing move that tore open the South Africa defence to enable Berta Bonastre to tap in.
With the prospect of needing to beat Argentina in the final group game with defeat South Africa came out with renewed vigour and pulled a goal back in the third quarter through Kara-lee Botes. However instead of sparking the African champions into action the goal seemed to inspire Spain as the European nation produced scintillating wave after wave of attack. The South Africa ladies were unable to cope with Carlota Petchame, who netted two open play strikes of differing styles but both superb in quality before Carola Salvatella made it 5-1 with a close-range finish at the end of the third quarter.
Spain continued their outstanding form throughout the fourth quarter, with their excellent penalty corner routines resulting in further goals. Riera made it 6-1 with another ferocious flick into the roof of the South African net before Bonastre joined Riera and Petchame as players with a two-goal haul from the contest with another set-piece before the end.
The result was a devastating blow for South Africa that left their World Cup dreams in tatters. Although not impossible the team now face a daunting challenge of having to beat Argentina and overturn a goal difference disadvantage as well.
Spain 7 – Lola Riera (2’ & 48’), Berta Bonastre (11’ & 55’), Carlota Petchame (37’ & 42’) & Carola Salvatella (45’)
South Africa 1 – Kara-lee Botes (35’)