It was a much win game for the South African women’s hockey team as they came up against their Welsh counterparts. Sheldon Rostron’s team had shown glimpses of quality against Malaysia but were frustrated by their inability to control the game, it was clear that the team set about getting this right against Wales.
South Africa would not underestimate the Welsh who themselves celebrated the result of the tournament when they beat India in their opening game. With the game being Wales’s final group game, a victory for them would put them level with India and England on points and would have seen South Africa eliminated from the medal competition.
In the blistering heat, the game started and it was South Africa who took to the pressure cooker best and managed the possession incredibly well. The chances being created were half chances at best and with a degree of frustration building towards half time it was Candice Manuel who finished off a fine team move with a sliding deflection. The goal and the celebration were reminiscent of the fine performance of Manuel against the USA when she helped SA qualify for the Hockey World Cup.
In the second half, South Africa surged again and again but failed to punish the Welsh who were defending with massive amounts of heart. Time and time again the penalty corner proved ineffective for South Africa, which will be a worry for the coaching staff, but the team kept pushing and Kristen Paton, in particular, was a driving force for this. The youngster has been a hit with the commentators in Australia and rightfully so.
As the game progressed the question changed from if the next goal would come to when it would come. The answer to the question was soundly delivered by Jade Mayne in the third quarter as she finished off after great work by Sulette Damons and Quanita Bobbs. South Africa had the lead that their dominance deserved and they were never going to let it go.
While there will still be concerns about the wastefulness in front of goal, the SA coaching staff will be happy that the fluidity of play has started to click and they are gearing up to bring their biggest performance in the final group game against India tomorrow. A victory for South Africa will secure a spot in the final four and a chance to playoff for the medals.
South Africa 2-0 Wales
10 April – 11:32 – South Africa vs. India