Proteas se­cure WC spot

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - OCK­ERT DE VIL­LIERS

THEY may have started out slowly in the Hockey World League Semi-Fi­nals but the South African women fin­ished with a bang beat­ing Ireland 3-0 to earn their place at next year’s World Cup in Lon­don.

The Proteas fired hot and cold through­out the tour­na­ment but man­aged to keep their wits about them for the cru­cial fifth to eighth place clas­si­fi­ca­tion match.

The top six teams au­to­mat­i­cally qual­ify for the 2018 World Cup with South Africa at least guar­an­teed a place among the top sides.

South Africa will next face Ja­pan to­mor­row, where the two sides will be cross­ing sticks for a fifth-place fin­ish in the tour­na­ment.

The sides went into the half-time break on equal terms and with everything to play for in the re­main­ing 30 min­utes.

South Africa’s first op­por­tu­nity to take the lead came in the 23rd minute of the match when they were awarded a penalty cor­ner.

Lisa-Marie Deetlefs made no mis­take when she landed the blow with a re­verse shot that went high into the back of the goal-box.

The tourists had a chance to en­force the sta­tus quo a minute be­fore the break when they earned a penalty stroke.

Roisin Up­ton’s shot hit the right-hand post de­nied Ireland the equaliser with the home side go­ing into the break breath­ing a sigh of re­lief.

The scores re­mained un­changed in the third chukka be­fore things un­rav­elled for the Ir­ish with the South Africans adding two more goals to the score­line.

Bernie Cos­ton added the sec­ond in the 49th minute af­ter she forced a turnover in­side the cir­cle to plant a straight shot into the back of the net.

For a fi­nal roll of the dice 10 min­utes re­main­ing in the en­counter, Ireland played their fi­nal card by re­plac­ing the keeper with a kick­ing back.

Lil­ian du Plessis ex­ploited an ex­posed goal box land­ing the knock­out blow to her side an unas­sail­able 3-0 vic­tory.

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