July 13, 2005 iAfrica.com, South Africa
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The Spar South African women's hockey team increased their points tally to nine after beating Japan 2-1 in a high tempo game on Tuesday (early Wednesday morning SA time).
South Africa led 2-0 at half-time.
The result propelled the underdogs to the top of the log with maximum points. New Zealand though are breathing down the South Africans' necks on seven points, also from three games, and their clash on Wednesday (match starts at midnight SA time) will go along way to determining who finishes first.
Following the round-robin fixtures, the final will be contested between teams one and two on the table, with the winner qualifying for the prestigious Champions Trophy.
SA took the lead against Japan with a well executed penalty corner in the 10th minute. Kate Hector hit a well struck ball which Jen Wilson deflected past the committed goalkeeper. Japan fought back strongly and were awarded a penalty stroke on 15 minutes, which they failed to convert.
Two minutes later, SA were awarded their second penalty corner which Sharne Wehmeyer converted from a Jo Boezaart slap.
The second half proved to be an even affair with SA unlucky not to go 3-0 up when the Japanese goalkeeper saved a certain shot from the stick of Pietie Coetzee.
The Japanese continued pressure in the last 10 minutes of the game and were rewarded with a well worked field goal by Akemi Kato in the 66th minute.
In the end South Africa held firm to record their third win on the trot.
"The team showed great maturity and resilience in the final 10 minutes of the game," said coach Jenny King afterwards.
"Physically the team is looking great and they are feeding off their confidence at the moment. Our encounter against New Zealand is going to be a really great challenge."
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