The fifth test match of the Indoor Hockey International Series between SPAR South Africa and Ireland Indoor Hockey took place at the Belville Velodrome this morning. Being the only morning match of the series offered its own challenges for the two teams, but it promised to still be a good test match.
After a superb defensive block of the opening South African Penalty corner, Ireland created their first chance of the game, but Orla Patton ran out of space before setting up the finish. The opening five minutes produced few chances as both teams were tentatively working their way into the game. The Ireland press was noticeably working together as a unit more efficiently than in the previous games. A tactical first quarter ultimately ended with the score 0-0, a fairly uncommon occurrence in Indoor Hockey.
The second quarter began in much the same way with sustained periods of possession bur very few goal scoring opportunities, but with four minutes remaining in the quarter the SA ladies won a penalty corner. Although the initial attempt was charged down by Orla Patton, the retake was expertly finished by Kara Botes to give the hosts a 1-0 lead. Botes and Johnson both had chances to make it 2-0 but were unable to find the back of the net as the Irish stood resolutely and the score remained that way at the half-time interlude.
The second half story seemed to be mimicking the first but at 5 minutes SA won a penalty corner and a slip to Jess Lardant looked destined for the net but for a timely intervention from Niamh Small. Kate McKenna then set up Sophie Barnwell on the break, but her touch was a bit too heavy and the chance was gone. South Africa then created a chance for Kayla de Waal, but O’Brien denied her but gave away the PC. The resultant PC struck McKenna on the body, but with the ball going wide a PC call was given. South Africa made no mistake with this one as Botes fired in low and hard. 2-0 at the end of the third quarter.
In the final quarter Ireland looked to be creating their best break of the game but Kara Botes first broke the attack down before surging up the other end and converting her hat-trick with her first field goal of the series. Almost immediately from the start it was Ireland who created the next attack and Amy Benson finished pass Greyvenstein expertly for her first International Indoor Hockey goal. Jess O’Connor was next to deny an attack from Ireland with a wonderfully executed tackle before Robyn Johnson fired wide from a great Amy Greaves pass.
With three minutes remaining Ireland withdrew their keeper and SPAR South Africa immediately took advantage of it. Cindy Hack showed incredible hands to get through and teed it up for Robyn Johnson to finish into an empty net. The move did however pay dividends for Ireland when Amy Benson got her second of the game and of her International Indoor career.
The final score – SPAR South Africa 4-2 Ireland. The two teams take each other on again tonight at the Bellville Velodrome and that match will be streamed live on Digitv.co.za.
SPAR Test Series
Durban – Danville Park Girls High School
First Test – Wednesday 4 December – South Africa 2-1 Ireland
Second Test – Thursday 5 December – South Africa 2-1 Ireland
Cape Town – Bellville Velodrome
Third Test – Saturday 7 December – South Africa 5-0 Ireland
Fourth Test – Sunday 8 December – South Africa 6-1 Ireland
Fifth Test – Tuesday 10 December – South Africa 4-2 Ireland
Sixth Test – Tuesday 10 December – 19:00