Ireland tie with Scotland; Australia and Belgium triumph in Pool A
USA – South Africa 4-2 (halftime: 1-2)
A superb second half performance saw USA come from a goal down to record a healthy win and gain some revenge over South Africa who knocked seven past them in the Olympic Games. It means that, barring a big turnaround in fortunes, the Africans looked destined for fourth place in the group and a likely quarter-final date with Australia.
Things had looked rosy at the interval for South Africa as a brilliant Nicolene Terblanche run and reverse cancelled out Katie O’Donnell’s opening goal. And they were ahead when Izelle Lategan picked up Sulette Damons’ lay-off and fired through a forest of legs for 2-1.
But the US were supremely motivated in the second half and – despite being reduced to nine players for two sin-bin offences – levelled through an own goal as the ball was nudged over the line from close range. O’Donnell nabbed her second with a beautifully guided touch to wrong-foot Vuyisanani Mangisa from Katelyn Falgowski’s corner hit. Torrie Albini confirmed the result two minutes from the end when she thundered home a penalty corner, handing them their first win of the campaign.
Ireland - Scotland 1-1 (halftime: 0-1)
Katie Mullan’s cracking reverse-stick goal 11 minutes from time ensured Ireland share top-spot in Pool B of the Champions Challenge I with Scotland as the pair played out a feisty 1-1 draw. The tie ended in bedlam, Alex Speers shown a rare red card having previously been sin-binned twice while a last second Scottish penalty corner award also created drama.
Irish keeper Emma Gray got down brilliantly to save from Nikki Kidd – on her 100th cap – from the ensuing shot to close out the tie with honours even. Earlier, Ireland started well, Aine Connery and Lisa Jacob forcing the issue down the right flank while Chloe Watkins showed some flashes of magic.
They drew four penalty corners along with a series of saves from Amy Gibson – the diminutive Scottish goalkeeper – but as time wore on the visitors developed a foothold in the tie. Indeed, they earned eight penalty corners by the time the half-time hooter sounded and Catriona Ralph eventually finished off from the last of these.
It was not the cleanest of strikes but had enough spin to elude the dive of Gray. But Ireland looked the more threatening side in the second period, themselves running up a double figure tally of penalty corners. Their profligacy from the set-piece, though, left them in arrears until Nikki Symmons worked a left-wing cross to the teenage Mullan who rounded onto her reverse and planted home powerfully.
India – Australia 1-8 (halftime: 1-3)
Australia reaffirmed their status as tournament favourites with a second successive victory as they blew away the challenge of India. The Asian side looked set to put in a major challenge when Ritu Rani cancelled out Madonna Blyth’s second minute goal.
But when the hockeyroos rattled home a pair of goals in quick succession while India were reduced to ten players due to Vandana Katariya's yellow card, the game was up as the second half was a not overly effective exercise in damage limitation.
Casey Eastham’s sharp finish and a sweetly worked Jodie Schulz corner move had the Aussies flying at 3-1. And they duly ran riot in the second period as Claire Messent scored the first of five quick-fire efforts in the 51st minute.
Blyth got her second close range corner goal while Georgia Nanscawen got a neat touch to Jade Close’s cross for 6-1. Emily Hurtz profited from a ricochet to simply volley home while Schulz picked out the top corner on the final whistle to complete the win against a dispirited India.
Belgium – Wales 4-2 (halftime: 3-0)
Belgium bounced back from their opening day defeat to Australia as they showed Wales a clean pair of heels in the early phases of the first game of the day. Stefanie de Groof scored a penalty corner and a stroke inside the first four minutes and, from there, the Welsh side never got back within range.
An own goal just before half-time furthered their woes for a 3-0 margin at the interval. Wales did bounce back in the second half as Phoebe Richards pulled one back in the 37th minute only for Jill Boon to reassert the three-goal wedge two minutes later.
The Belgians could have extended their lead but for some wayward finishing as Boon and Marine Truyens both missed out from close range before Natasha Marke closed out the scoring in the final quarter. It means Wales are the only side in the pool without a win while Belgium strengthened their hand with their first success.Back