| South Africa’s Kerry Bee (left) attempts to block a shot on goal by Englands’ Lucilla Wright in Perth Monday. (AP/PTI)
Perth: The Netherlands overcame a spirited Japan to register a 2-0 win in the women’s hockey World Cup here Monday, while England drew 2-2 with South Africa.
The Netherlands weathered early pressure from Japan and forced two penalty corners, with Mijntje Donners scoring from a rebound in the eighth minute for the only goal of the first half.
The Dutch defence was challenged and frustrated by Japan’s speed, and Ageeth Boomgaardt received a yellow card following a clash of sticks two minutes from the break.
Boomgaardt made amends after returning to the field seven minutes into the second half by converting a penalty corner past Japanese goalkeeper Rie Terazono in the 47th minute.
Japan’s head coach, Zenjiro Yasuda was proud of the way his team had played despite the loss.
“Japan was on par with The Netherlands in the midfield which helped us control the match but zero points is not good enough even if we play well,” Yasuda said. Dutch coach Marc Lammers said his team did not play so well, but was nevertheless pleased with the result.
Later, the match between England and South Africa got off to a sizzling start, both scoring goals within the first four minutes.
England’s Helen Grant scored in the second minute, after working the ball one-handed from the attacking quarter line into the circle and driving past the South African goalkeeper Caroline Birt.
Stung into action, South Africa responded with Johke Koornhof diving at the right post to deflect a penalty corner into the goal. Honours were shared for the rest of the first half.
England, the favourites, pressed across the pitch early in the second half. South Africa tried to break the press with overhead passes behind England’s deep defence but frequently turned over possession through poor execution.
Eventually South Africa wore down the press, breaking out with possession to find prolific striker Pietie Coetzee free in the circle to drive in from the top of the circle for their second goal in the 55th minute.
However England equalised with just three minutes left when Melanie Clewlow converted England’s seventh penalty corner.
“We played a conservative first half and at half time I told the girls to get into fifth gear and play less conservatively,” said England’s coach Tricia Heberle.
South African coach Ros Howell was pleased with the result.
“It was a fantastic result for us to take a point from any team ranked higher than us,” Howell said.