Jan 26, 2024

France weather South African storm to level series

After a couple of days rest South Africa and France renewed their rivalry in the fifth test match on Friday afternoon with the South Africans leading the series 2-1.

The South Africans and French effectively cancelled each other out in the first half with limited chances for both teams. South Africa was more dominant in the possession with the French playing on the counter attack. South Africa won two penalty corners but were unable to convert the opportunity and the game progressed to the half-time break goal-less.

The tension was clearly starting to rise as the two teams felt the moment growing towards a potential crescendo. Despite South Africa shading the possession and having a lot of ball in dangerous areas, there were limited chances. France broke the deadlock with their first penalty corner of the game finished by Ines Lardeur. South Africa would have a penalty corner themselves, but Marie Louw’s shot was well saved. The third quarter ending with the score 1-0 to the French.

South Africa continued to push in the final quarter with Quanita Bobbs and Celia Seerane combining to create space on several occasions, but the low block of the French was proving frustratingly difficult to break down. France almost caught South Africa on the break from a long aerial, but the resultant penalty corner produced nothing.

South Africa then struck the crossbar and the upright in successive minutes from penalty corners as they somehow failed to get the ball over the line. The South Africans found themselves almost camped in the French 23 and earned another penalty corner. This time it was well defended and the French continued to hang on to a one goal lead.

Bianca Wood, Ntsopa Mokoena and Thati Zulu were throwing everything they could at the French defense, but they produced perfectly timed tackles continuously under pressure. Despite the massive effort from the South Africans, it was France who held on to win the test 1-0 and level the series 2-2 ahead of the final test match on Sunday.

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