Both sides were hungry for goals from the outset, this second Test of the six-match series showing as much promise as the exciting 1-1 draw in Friday night’s first Test, which could easily have been 5-5 on another day.
The keepers were kept on their toes as play swung from end to end, requiring their timely intervention at regular intervals, while there was some superb defensive play by SA’s Nicolene Terblanche and Lisa Deetlefs. Illse Davids in the SA engine room worked hard alongside her fellow midfielders in attack and defence.
The crowd were on their feet in the 10th minute when Candice Manuel picked her spot, but Belgium keeper Megane Simons made a spectacular diving save to her right. Counterpart Anelle van Deventer also drew applause for some fine stops but in the 14th the deadly Stephanie de Groof opened the scoring with a penalty corner slap that thudded into the backboard (1-0).
The second chukka saw SA doing their utmost to draw level, Sulette Damons and Shelley Russell making inroads. The two sides have been well-matched in the last few years and the contact points were fierce. Van Deventer made a stunning glove-save in the 27th from a De Groof PC rocket but just 12 second from half-time (30th minute) the Belgium ace made no mistake (2-0).
In the 39th Damons and Russell combined well and Dirkie Chamberlain finished off a goal that had massive determination as its hallmark (2-1). A minute later keeper substitute Sanani Mangisa made an assured save from De Groof’s PC and Chamberlain came close at the other end.
The frenetic pace continued but SA were undone by taking the wrong option. De Groof made it hurt more with her PC hat-trick in the 45th (3-1).
SA had it all to do in the fourth and final chukka and in the 50th a perfect one-two between Damons and Terblanche saw the latter pull one goal back (3-2).
A stunning backhand strike by Lilian du Plessis, after cutting in from the left wing, drew SA level 3-3 in the 52nd.
With eight minutes left it was anyone’s game and two minutes from full-time Mangisa made a vital save. SA threw everything forward but time ran out and 3-3 it remained.
The Cape Town Summer Series goes into overdrive Sunday, with a South African double-header at Hartleyvale. The SA women’s second Test against Chile at 2pm – SA won the first Test in the four-Test series 4-2 – and the SA men in their first Test against Ireland at 4pm.
Monday is another double-header at Hartleyvale, the Investec SA women’s third Test versus Chile at 5pm – and the SA men against Ireland in their second and final Test, at 7pm. At Stellenbosch University, the Dutch and Belgian men meet at 3pm.
In Sunday’s entertaining curtain-raiser, the Belgian men shocked Holland 4-0 with goals from Maxime Plennevaux, Gauthier Boccard and Felix Denayer (2).
Sunday and Monday fixtures (at Hartleyvale)
Sunday – Women: SA vs Chile (2pm); Men: SA vs Ireland (4pm).
Monday – Women: SA vs Chile (5pm); Men: SA vs Ireland (7pm).
Tickets: R30. Gates open one hour before the first whistle (At Stellenbosch University)
Men: Holland vs Belgium (3pm).
Investec SA: Anelle van Deventer (GK), Shelley Russell, Lisa Deetlefs, Lilian du Plessis, Nicolene Terblanche, Erin Hunter, Jade Mayne (capt), Bernie Coston, Sulette Damons, Nicole Walraven, Tiffany Jones. Rolling subs: Sanani Mangisa (GK), Demi du Toit, Candice Manuel, Illse Davids, Quanita Bobbs, Line Malan, Dirkie Chamberlain.
Belgium: Megane Simons (GK), Anne-Sophie Scheemaekere, Aline Fobe, Stephanie de Groof, Anouk Raes, Judith Vandermeiren, Lieselotte van Lindt (capt), Alix Gerniers, Emilie Sinia, Barbara Nelen, Jill Boon. Rolling subs: Aisling D’Hooghe (GK), Louise Cavenaile, Stephanie van den Borre, Anne-Sophie Weyns, Louise Versavel, Joanne Peeters, Manon Simons.
Umpires: Tanja Schafer, Chantelle Britz.