Friday, July 19, 2024

South Africa vs New Zealand: Opening double is a Games first for Kiwis

[img_assist|nid=4666|title=Southern hemisphere hockey|desc=New Zealand’s Stacey Michelsen (white) and South Africa’s Jennifer Wilson get close –|link=node|align=right|width=220|height=146]LONDON, July31 – New Zealand beat South Africa 4-1 in their second pool match at the Riverbank Arena on Tuesday, the first time they have won their opening two matches at an Olympic Games, four years after failing to win a match at Beijing 2008.

Charlotte Harrison celebrated her 23rd birthday in style, scoring New Zealand’s opening goal in the first minute, finishing a neat penalty corner move with a deflection on a Kayla Sharland sweep directed to the right of the South Africa goal.

Katie Glynn provided constant pressure in the circle and South Africa conceded penalty corners with regularity. At New Zealand’s second penalty corner, Kate Woods was sent from the goal line after breaking too early, but New Zealand couldn’t take advantage.

The pressure continued from New Zealand and the penalty corners kept coming. Glynn, Sharland and and Clarissa Eshuis all had penalty corner shots blocked before Eshuis found a gap to Mariette Rix’s right in the 22nd minute, making it 2-0 with a strong low flick.

New Zealand earned their sixth penalty corner using their team referral to overturn the umpire’s decision in the 25th minute, but South Africa were not so lucky a few minutes later when Sharland made it 3-0 with a strong finish.

The umpire awarded the goal, but South Africa called for a referral, claiming Sharland was just outside the circle when she struck the ball. It was a very close call and the video umpire offered no advice, leaving the umpire’s original decision to stand.

South Africa had more possession in the second half with Pietie Coetzee providing the biggest threat to New Zealand’s goal on her 250th international appearance.

New Zealand goalkeeper Bianca Russell twice blocked Coetzee shots before South Africa were awarded a penalty stroke in the 52nd minute for a push on Jennifer Wilson by Eshuis. New Zealand’s referral was denied and Coetzee scored her 246th international goal from the spot.

The video umpire was busy again a minute later, called into action by the match umpires after an Eshuis flick at a penalty corner. It wasn’t clear if the ball had hit Lenise Marais on the South Africa goal line, but the video umpire ruled in New Zealand’s favour and Rix blocked Eshuis’ second attempt with her left foot.

Sharland finished the match off for New Zealand, scoring her second goal in the 61st minute, again close to the top of the circle with a powerful reverse-stick shot that beat RIX to her right to make it 4-1 to New Zealand.

Stacey Michelsen (NZL) received boos from the crowd in the closing minutes while protecting possession in the corner of the field in South Africa’s half.

Total Hockey



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