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Argentina’s ‘Las Leonas’ clean up in five-test series

Argentina completed a clean sweep of their test series against South Africa with a 4-1 victory in Mar Del Plata on Friday. 

The 11th-ranked Investec South Africa women’s hockey team trailed ‘Las Leonas’ 2-0 at half time in the fifth and final test. They then fought back to 2-1 before a strong finish gave Argentina a 4-1 victory.

After weathering an early second-half assault as Argentina went in search of a three-goal advantage, captain Sulette Damons’ SA side began connecting.

The tourists pulled one back when the skipper cracked a pass towards the Bernie Coston, whose deflection effected a fine save from replacement keeper Florencia Mutio and the alert Celia Evans was perfectly placed to volley home the rebound (2-1).

Then Jade Mayne fired a ball into the strike zone and Dirkie Chamberlain’s deflection from close brought out a stunning reflex save by Mutio – arguably the save of the series.

Argentina poured forward and the game became very exciting, if rather loose for the purists. Delfina Merino popped in a PC rebound for 3-1 in the 61st minute and a Noel Barrionuevo PC in the 67th minute made the final score 4-1.

The match had a rosy start when Western Province’s Quanita Bobbs was honoured for her 50th Test appearance.

Josefina Sruoga of Las Leonas celebrated her 150th match and once the first whistle sounded there was not much joy for SA in the opening stanza, Barrionuevo opening the scoring in the ninth minute from Argentina’s second penalty corner.

In the 17th it was the turn of eight-time World Player of the Year Luciana Aymar to break from outside the attacking third of the pitch and scythe into the strike zone from the left channel in inimitable fashion before slamming her shot into the backboard for 2-0.

SA keeper Anelle van Deventer made a number of very good saves in the match to keep SA in the game; while the South Africans had their moments up front in the first half but too often the final pass did not find its target.

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