🏆 JWC 2021 : South Africa Junior Women’s team beat Ireland in their second Junior World Cup match
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Dragflick Newsdesk : South Africa and Ireland faced off at the FIH Hockey Women’s Junior World Cup in Potchefstroom today with a place in the top 8 of the tournaments up for grabs. Both sides had lost their opening games to England and without Ukraine’s participation at the event, it meant this was a knockout match for both sides.

The two sides have plenty of history in different formats and in different age groups, but it was the first ever meeting between the two at Junior Women’s Level.

South Africa, playing in all green, came out charging from the start, but the Irish were equally up for the game. There was a lack of early clear-cut chances as both teams sought to gain the ascendency in the game. Both sides had an early circle entry, but both saw that opportunity snuffed out easily. And a tough tactical battle ended at the end of the first quarter without a shot on target.

Ireland had the best chance to create something early in the second quarter when they were awarded the games opening penalty corner. The opportunity went missing and the South Africans continued to look for an opportunity on the counterattack.

To Ireland’s credit they were intercepting any opportunity almost as it arose. However, in a game riddled with nerves and lacking quality, it was South Africa who had the next big opportunity to lead as they were awarded their own first PC. They came closer than the Irish though as the shot from Hanrie Louw was deflected onto the post and the score remained goalless.

South Africa were growing in confidence and the Irish sensed it having to douse another threat from the South African attack shortly after. But it was Ireland who would get the next opportunity as they surged up the other end and won another penalty corner. But Louw popped up with a touch on the post to deflect it wide and keep parity. After defending another penalty corner South Africa broke the deadlock.

A penalty corner was awarded for a poor stick tackle and a powerful slap from Jean-Leigh du Toit was deflected off an Irish stick to give the hosts the lead. The fact that it came on the cusp of half-time was particularly satisfying for the South Africans.

A tentative third quarter saw the teams continue to tussle for domination with Ireland knowing a draw would be sufficient for them to take a place in the top 8 of the tournaments by virtue of goal difference.

After a lull in the game South Africa were awarded three penalty corners in succession, but on the third occasion Ireland were able to get the ball out and immediately looked to create a goal scoring opportunity up the field from which they won a penalty corner themselves. The shot brought out a wonderful save from Mishka Ellis and brought the quarter to an end.

15 Minutes stood between the hosts and a spot in the top 8 of the first African hosted FIH Hockey World Cup. But they were reminded early on of the Irish danger as the young Europeans missed an opportunity to pass going for the shot in what could have been a huge opportunity for the Green Army.

Despite mounting pressure, the hosts ventured up the other end winning a penalty corner and a card for the Irish. It was another triple corner for the South Africans as the Irish managed to repel the opportunity and the chance was gone.

With 6 minutes remaining it was still anybody’s spot for grabs in the top 8. Ireland was the next to attempt to land a killer blow as they had a penalty corner which fired just inches wide. 5 minutes remained.

Ireland created a circle penetration and turned over the ball in the middle of the park but created danger by colliding in the middle of the park and the South Africans were given the opportunity to get of danger. 3 minutes remained.

Ireland created a one-on-one opportunity, but Mishka Ellis pulled off a superb one-on-one save to deny the Irish, while a knock to the head for Hamill meant the tension had to wait a while longer as the Irish player received treatment. When play resumed it was in the Irish half and SA were awarded with a penalty corner with 90 seconds on the clock. It was well charged down and just 1 minute remained in the action.

South Africa were able to hold on and secured their place in the top 8!

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