Dancer and Hawkshaw thrilled with Ireland resilience to beat South Africa

Women’s World Cup ranking match

Ireland 2 (S Hawkshaw, R Upton) South Africa 0

Penalty corner goals from Sarah Hawkshaw and Róisín Upton saw Ireland bounced back from their World Cup group stage elimination to put them in the frame for a ninth place finish overall.

They will now playoff for ninth place overall on Tuesday against either China while this win also means they will finish the tournament in a higher ranking than their pre-event rating.

 “We are thrilled [with how we bounced back from exiting the group stages],” said Hawkshaw afterwards

“We talked a lot about performances and we have put in some good ones but it is about time we got a win. Of course it is difficult to put the group stages out of our mind. We  didn’t reach our initial goal and we had to reset.”

Sean Dancer was delighted with how the side put together the performance, too, and says getting this extra phase of classification matches is a boost for his young side.

“The thing about the second half of the tournament is there is nothing we can do now about the first half. We’ve got a lot to play for, not just for the ranking points but around us as a group and where we are trying to get to.

“This game was very important around performance, a result, but also the way we played and I was certainly happy how we did that and Tuesday will be no different. It will be about how we play for the group.

“I was on the other side [with New Zealand in 2018] when we got knocked out early and hung around for nothing. So to get some classification games is a positive and it gives us more hockey to play.”

The Green Army showed they were the fresher side from the start having three days to clear the heads after their group stage exit while South Africa had been in action less than 24 hours before in a crossover fixture.

Katie Mullan fired one to test impressive goalkeeper Phumelela Mbande in the fourth minute, one of several big saves she had to make before half-time.

South Africa endured three sin-binnings in the opening quarter with Tarryn Lombard twice sent to the naughty step with Lisa-Marie Deetlefs also taking a two-minute time-out.

And it contributed to the Green Army spending the vast majority of the tie on the front foot. Into quarter two and the penalty corner chances started to ramp up, too, with Katie McKee, Caoimhe Perdue and the tireless Zara Malseed to the fore.

From the third set-piece, McKee’s injection was true and Hannah McLoughlin had time to deliver the perfect ball for Hawkshaw to dive onto and turn in. Sarah Torrans swept the next chance onto the outside of the post but there were no further additions to the tally before the big break.

Torrans was at it again immediately after the restart, stealing the South African tip-off and ending up winning a corner. This time, Upton went direct with a drag-flick hitting the bottom left of the backboard for 2-0.

Facing a big mountain to climb, the African side started to find their feet as the third quarter progressed, particularly when both Hawkshaw and Deirdre Duke spent simultaneous time in the sin-bin.

The best that came of it was a rising Lilian du Plessis shot which ended up in the side-netting. But they found the Irish defence in gritty form with Sarah McAuley and Hannah McLoughlin typefying their work-rate to limit the danger.

Four final quarter penalty corner chances were spurned to make the result safer but it proved academic as Ireland held for the win.

China will be their final opponent in Amsterdam on Tuesday at 1.30pm (Irish time) with the winner being placed ninth overall and the loser in 11th. Victory could also return Ireland to the top 12 in the rankings.

Ireland: A McFerran, M Carey, R Upton, S Hawkshaw, K Mullan, H McLoughlin, S Torrans, L Tice, N Carroll, C Perdue, E Curran

Subs: S McAuley, Z Malseed, C Beggs, K McKee, D Duke, C Hamill, L Murphy

South Africa: P Mbande, K Paton, O Zulu, L-M Deetlefs, E Christie, L du Plessis, B Coston, Q Bobbs, T Lombard. J-L du Toit, H Louw

Subs: E Molikoe, R Johnson, H Pearce, M Ramasimong, S-L Simmons, K de Waal, M Serage

Officials: I Presenqui (ARG), A Neumann (AUS)