They came to Hartleyvale with a mission and at the end of 70 minutes in the fourth Test Friday night it was mission accomplished for the Investec South Africa women’s hockey team as they romped to a 4-0 victory over Belgium after leading 3-0 at half-time.
SA scored through Pietie Coetzee (third minute), Lisa Deetlefs (14th), Bernie Coston (29th) and Celia Evans (61st) to take a 2-1 lead in the six-Test series with two to play.
The South Africans were quicker to the ball, more inventive in their attack construction and alert to the unforeseen, reacting quickly to clean up mistakes.
In the second minute Coston’s pace and control set up the first penalty corner. Goalkeeper Aisling D’Hooghe glove-saved Coetzee’s fierce effort to her right. A minute later Dirkie Chamberlain, strong on the ball, won the second PC and this time Coetzee went low to the keeper’s right and the ball clattered into the backboard (1-0).
It was the world record goalscorer’s 278th goal in her 279th Test match.
A stunning move down the right instigated by the strong-running Coston, who brushed off several tackles, was carried on by Shelley Russell, in her 200th Test, and the double Olympian’s cross from the right floated tantalisingly across the goals with no-one able to get a stick on it.
Marcelle Manson and Nicolene Terblanche made two critical tackles during the match, while SA goalkeeper Phume Mbande made telling saves from Jill Boon and Louise Versavel and made pulled off timely interventions to snuff out dangerous Belgian incursions into the strike zone.
In the 13th SA put together an eight-pass attack that almost led to a goal but it did produce the girls in green and gold’s third PC and Lisa Deetlefs volleyed in the rebound off keeper D’Hooghe after Lilian du Plessis had forced the initial save (2-0).
Coston struck in the 29th minute after Coetzee had layed off the pass and SA turned around 3-0 to the good.
In the 47th captain Marsha Cox intercepted in midfield and drove forward before laying off to Kathleen Taylor, whose shot resulted in SA’s fifth PC, Du Plessis’ conventional strike steaming just outside the near post.
Midway through a topsy-turvy second half Belgium’s Axelle Wouters found space on the left, but her strike cannoned into the sideboard.
In the 61sth Tarryn Bright freed up Sulette Damons, who raced upfield before smashing an early diagonal ball from the right to a lurking Celia Evans, who finished off the move and extinguished any hopes Belgium had of making a comeback
The fifth Test is at 4pm Sunday with the sixth and final Test at 7pm Monday.