SOUTH Africa’s women secured second place in Pool A of the womens’ competition at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games with a narrow 3-2 win over India.
Goals from India’s Jaspreet Kaur and Rani Rampal were not enough after Tarryn Bright, Dirkie Chamberlain, Ilse Davids had given South Africa what proved to be an unassailable lead.
India left it until the last 10 minutes to launch all they had at their opponents, but they were unable to clinch an equaliser.
South Africa began the half with slick, incisive passing and off-the-ball movement that opened the Indian defence on several occasions.
The first goal came from an incredibly slick penalty corner routine, which was slipped back to injector Bright, to flick home on 14 mins.
India showed flashes of the stick skill brilliance the sub-continental teams are famed for, with Vandana Katariya weaving down the right leaving three opponents lost in her wake.
But South Africa continued to threaten winning a penalty corner after great work by Shelley Russell, but it was not converted.
India won a penalty stroke which Kaur handsomely dispatched into the roof with two minutes before the end of the half.
But the celebrations were short-lived as the ball fell loose to Davids in the circle who slotted to Chamberlain on the reverse, to restore South Africa’s lead.
South Africa won two penalty corners early in the second half but were unable to convert either.
Just under 20 minutes unto the second half, the ball fell invitingly to Davids at the top of the circle and she smashed home a third for her team.
The Indians began to up the ante and with 12 minutes to play Rampal smashed the ball into the backboard from a penalty corner.
Two more penalty corners followed in the next 10 minutes but the South African defence remained resolute, although clearly rattled.
The pressure was maintained right up to the final whistle when a referral was made, that a South African defender used the back of their stick in the circle.
The referral was rejected by the video umpire, luckily for many of the eager crowd who had left before the referral was made.
The Africans now face the prospect of an in-form Hockeyroos side in the semi-finals, while India will be left wondering why they didn’t play with such a high intensity as the last ten minutes, from the first whistle.
Speaking after the game, South Africa’s Shelley Russell, said : “I think we are very relieved to come out with the win.
“We absorbed a lot of pressure at the end there, so relief is the word that’s coming out now.
“We will be going back to the drawing board and looking at what we can do against Australia now.
“I think the Kiwis probably play a quite a similar style to Australia, so it is great to have that game behind us, but the loss put us under a bit of pressure today and that’s why we went for the goals.”