Claim vic­tory

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - OCKERT DE VIL­LIERS

DIG­GING deep to se­cure a play-off berth, the Proteas women beat the United States 3-2 in a gutsy per­for­mance at the Hockey World League Semi-Fi­nals in Jo­han­nes­burg.

Candice Man­ual scored a brace of goals while Jade Mayne also got onto the score­sheet.

South Africa would be ques­tion­ing why they could not string to­gether more per­for­mances like this in their ear­lier matches in the tour­na­ment.

Bat­tling to con­vert their op­por­tu­ni­ties into points, South Africa had scored only one goal be­fore this do-or-die en­counter.

The hosts played with a greater sense of ur­gency as they fought their way back twice in the match.

South Africa had to beat the United States to ad­vance to the quar­ter-fi­nals af­ter they had drawn their open­ing match against In­dia be­fore los­ing 3-1 to Ar­gentina and 1-0 against Chile.

The vis­i­tors opened the scor­ing cour­tesy of Melissa Gon­za­lez.

Re­fus­ing to give up, South Africa launched a few promis­ing at­tacks through the mid­dle but found greater pen­e­tra­tion on the right-hand side.

Shel­ley Jones proved a hand­ful on at­tack for South Africa and played a lead­ing role in the first goal.

Rac­ing down the right-hand side from a counter-at­tack, Jones passed the ball in­side to Sulette Da­mons, who played it across the face of the box to Mayne for the goal.

The sides went into the half-time break level with South Africa still in with a chance of claim­ing a cru­cial vic­tory.

The United States re­gained the lead at the end of the third quar­ter with Jill Wit­mer land­ing the blow to leave South Africa with an­other moun­tain to climb.

With 11 min­utes left on the clock, Bernie Cos­ton pro­duced some magic in­side the cir­cle as she beat the keeper be­fore play­ing in Man­ual, who put the ball into the back of the net.

Two min­utes later Man­ual handed South Africa the lead for the first time in the match with a back­handed blow work­ing a tight an­gle into the left-hand cor­ner.

The fi­nal min­utes of the match were char­ac­terised by some ill-dis­ci­pline with Man­ual and Amer­ica’s Michelle VIttese earn­ing yel­low cards at the same time.

South Africa earned two more green cards in the last five min­utes as they not only man­aged to keep the United States out but also threat­ened to score the fourth goal.

They next face Ger­many to­mor­row.

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