SA women’s hockey unbeaten in New Delhi

Dirkie Chamberlain netted her second successive hat-trick as South Africa finished at the top of the table in the round robin stage of the Olympic women’s hockey qualifying tournament in New Delhi, India, on Friday.

The South Africans remained unbeaten in the first round, storming clear in the second half to bag a convincing 4-1 victory over Canada in their final pool game.

Thea Culley tapped in a cross from Hannah Haughn in the 16th minute to give the Canadians the early lead, but Sulette Damons equalised 12 minutes before half-time with her third strike in two games.

Chamberlain then fired in three second-half goals to seal the win in the dead rubber encounter.

“There’s confidence in my game at the moment but it’s easier to be confident because everybody is playing with confidence,” Chamberlain said.

“It’s like an energy transfer in the team where we are all feeding off each other.”

World record goal scorer Pietie Coetzee returned to the starting line-up after missing the previous two matches due to a viral infection.

Coetzee had a penalty stroke saved by Kaitlyn Williams, who made some inspired stops for the Canadians, and while she didn’t score, Coetzee was glad to be back out on the park.

“I felt a bit weak but was grateful for the opportunity to get my muscles working again after three days of doing nothing,” she said.

“A couple more meals in me and I will be fine for the final.”

The South Africans picked up four victories and a draw from their five matches in the round robin stage, qualifying for Saturday’s final with a game to spare.

They will face hosts India, who beat Italy 1-0 on Friday to advance to the final, for a place at the London Olympic Games in July. — Sapa

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