Midfielder Casey Eastham celebrated her 150th international with a win today but the Hockeyroos were far from convincing defeating South Africa 1-0.
Australia started slowly with their opposition intercepting two passes out of defence in the first two minutes.
The Hockeyroos then steadied and were awarded their first penalty corner after the umpire deemed the defender deliberately put the ball out over the backline. Jodie Schulz could not convert however with her drag flick well saved.
Three minutes later at the five minute mark Australia forced another short corner, which was again saved by South Africa.
The Hockeyroos continued to press and forced their third penalty corner. This time they used a variation but the ball ended up on Australia’s foot and consequently there was no score.
After a counter attack, Australia cleared the ball and Teneal Attard, Fiona Boyce and Eastham combined in a great build up that resulted in the opening conversion.
Eastham made a brilliant pass through to Jade Close who made no mistake from the top of the circle beating a defender and the keeper with a superb strike, nailing her first goal at the Olympics.
Shortly after the Hockeyroos forced a fourth penalty but when the shot sailed wide the conversion rate was not looking good.
Fifteen minutes in South Africa was awarded a penalty corner but once again Australian Keeper Toni Cronk made a brilliant save, one of many during the game producing another stand out performance.
South Africa continued to lift its intensity and pressured the Australian defence who turned the ball over too many times allowing their opposition too many chances in front of goal
After half time, South Africa continued its relentless pressure forcing the Hockeyroos into numerous skill errors.
Cronk was again forced to save a brilliant shot by Jennifer Wilson who had found too much space in the circle.
Whenever the Hockeyroos made it into their attacking twenty-five they were continually thwarted by the South African defenders led by Lenise Marais.
The Hockeyroos could only manage one corner in the second half compared to South Africa’s three and it would have been four but one was disallowed after a video referral called for by Australian Captain Madonna Blyth
The Hockeyroos looked a little flat in this match and lacked the spark of previous games.
Megan Rivers worked tirelessly in midfield trying to lift her troops, who will be bitterly disappointed if they miss the finals on goal percentage.
Hopefully the Hockeyroos can improve on their penalty corner conversion rate and pick up their intensity for the next game against Argentina and secure a place in the medal round on their own terms.
Australia 1-0 South Africa
Goal: Jade Close
Best Players: Toni Cronk, Megan Rivers, Jade Close
Hockey Australia Press Release