Ireland will no doubt be disappointed not to have secured 5th place after a superb performance against the world no 12’s.
Ireland started strongly appling pressure from the off with excellent work building through McCarthy and Sargent at the back through to Watkins. Ireland were also forced into defending on a number of occassions and McCarthy at the back threw her body on the line throughout the game to help clear the decks.
Ireland got the first penalty corner of the game in the 28th minute but their efforts were dealt with. Two minutes later South Africa broke onto the score board when Damons knocked in a left hand reverse effort to take the lead. South Africa had a chance in the 31st to double their lead before half time but Gray in goals made a class stick save against Coetzee’s drag attempt.
One minute into the second half South Africa had another penalty corner this time Coetzee slipping to her left but the deflection attempt went wide, allowing Ireland to get back into their stride and up their tempo. The match ensued in an end to end manner but Ireland looked stronger and deserved a goal.
Ireland finally got just deserves in the 47m when they lined up for a penalty corner and Harvey’s pass to Symmons allowed her to slot home from the near side and level them to 1 -1.
Ireland secured another penalty corner but O’Flynn’s drag was dealt with by Rix’s in goals. When South Africa secured another pc Coetzee made no mistake when she flung her drag high into the net leaving Gray with little chance to go 2-1 up.
Ireland played right through to the end and deserved to push the game into extra time but despite great play and chances the time slipped away too quickly and South Africa secured 5th place and Ireland had to settle for 6th however still one place higher than they were ranked coming into this tournament.
“There is a bitter sweet feeling in the team, they are extremely disappointed in loosing a close match but satisfied that we performed so well. The effort and application was of a very high standard and we will gain confidence from our performance over the course of this tournament”. commented Muller after the match.
Ireland 1 (0) Nikki Symmons (pc)
South Africa 2 (1) Sulette Damons (op); Pietie Coetzee (pc)
Starting XI: Gray; Harvey; Sargent; Smyth; Clarke; Speers; Mccay; McDonnell; O’Halloran; McCarthy; Symmons
Reserves: Jacob; Connery; O’Flynn; Watkins; Colvin