The 4th of February 2020 marked the last test match the South African Hockey Women played on home soil. Due to a combination of the coronavirus pandemic and foreign tournament obligations the team had not had the opportunity to play in front of home fans in 1 077 days.
Ahead of the first test against the 8th ranked Indians, the 22nd ranked South Africans awarded debut caps to Morgan de Jager and Cailynn den Bakker. The South Africans though were not able to celebrate that moment too long as India took a lead through Rani from a strong strike at the penalty corner.
The second for India was scrappy as the ball bobbled under the pads of de Jager and Monika popped up to bundle the ball home. Two became three thanks to Kaur Navneet with a brilliant reverse stick strike into the bottom left corner.
The tough second quarter continued for the South Africans when India fired home a drag flick from the penalty corner. Gurjit got a lot of power and height behind the ball and it ripped into the net superbly. India would add a fifth through Kumari Sangita right on the half time break much to the disappointment of the home fans.
The hosts gave their home fans a moment to cheer in the third quarter. South Africa were awarded a penalty corner and despite a poor injection Kristen Paton created space and shot. Her shot was deflected into the path of Quanita Bobbs who fired home superbly. It was a far more even third quarter with Paton and Bobbs having a better influence on the game and helping limit the attack of the Indians.
Both teams played a little bit with the hand break up in the final quarter as they put their eyes towards the second test in just under 24 hours at the same venue. No further goals were added and the final score for the opening test was India 5-1 South Africa
Quanita Bobbs shared after the game:
“We battled to contain India in the first half but did much better in the second half. We have to start the game better. We are a young side and we are playing exciting hockey in phases but we have to keep developing and building up our play!”
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