SA women start off on the back foot
Three goals in the first 12 minutes set world number four Great Britain up for a 6-0 win over world number 12 South Africa in the unofficial women’s hockey Test match at Bisham Abbey on Monday.
A Crista Cullen penalty corner was followed by an Alex Danson field goal before Cullen made it 3-0 with Great Britain’s second penalty corner. With the interval looming, Danson set up Sarah Thomas for a tap-in at the far post.
Turning around 4-0 down, SA had a much better second half with a number of good opportunities. But it was GB who found the net via a razor-sharp Danson goal before Cullen completed her hat-trick with a well-struck shot off a penalty corner rebound.
SA were up against it from the outset with captain Marsha Marescia (ankle) and Jen Wilson (leg) being rested, Kathleen Taylor not 100% and Kate Woods and Shelley Russell coming straight to the ground after flying from SA to London.
Apart from Georgie Twigg (tight hamstring) the Brits were at full strength with the return of the outstanding Danson and Cullen, as well as captain Kate Walsh, making a marked difference to the side beaten 3-1 by SA at the London Cup a month ago.
Playing high-octane hockey with impressive ball speed and switching of play, Great Britain used the full length and width of the field with high-hanging, lateral-running strikers complemented by defenders releasing the ball from deep, ensuring valuable space for the midfielders to set up attacks.
It wasn’t easy for SA to break out of defence in the first half although world record goalscorer Pietie Coetzee (241 goals in 245 Tests) did have a penalty corner saved by keeper Beth Storry and the pacy Bernie Coston and Russell had their moments down the left wing.