England suffer third defeat at World Cup

Nicola White scored England's only goal in the 4-1 defeat to South Africa at the Rabobank World Cup - credit Ady Kerry

England’s 2014 Rabobank World Cup fate was sealed today as Jason Lee’s side fell to a 4-1 defeat at the hands of South Africa. The result means that any chances of making a semi-final and having the opportunity to play for a World Cup medal are well and truly over.

Kathleen Taylor 18 (FG)
Sulette Damons 32 (FG)
Shelley Russell 40 (FG)
Dirkie Chamberlain 52 (FG)

Nicola White 55 (FG)

In the other Pool B matches of the day the USA thrashed China 5-0 and Argentina put three past Germany without reply to leave the USA and Argentina top of Pool B.

England Head Coach Jason Lee said on the result today: “Early on when we hit the post I thought we were in control and if that had gone in it would have been enough to take us on into the game. It’s a real challenge for us to get the most out of this tournament now in terms of pride and self-esteem."

England started with promise, with Lily Owsley hitting the post and Sophie Bray having a good chance in the first five minutes. However, the South African attackers enjoyed early chances of their own – playing on the break while England played high up the field, and coming extremely close a couple of times, but the scoring didn't open until 17 minutes in. South Africa’s Celia Evans got past the England defence to fire a shot on goal which, was tapped in by Kathleen Taylor.

After that the momentum of the game continued to go South Africa’s way – just before half time Hollie Webb was dispossessed in front of England’s circle, and Sulette Damons was able to dart inside the circle line and fire off a reverse-stick shot into the top left hand corner, sending South Africa two goals up going into the break.

In the second half South Africa were still looking for chances to break through England’s defence and looked the stronger side, and a green card for England Captain Kate Richardson-Walsh gave South Africa the opportunity they needed to increase their lead – Nicolene Terblanche fired a shot into England’s circle which was picked up by Shelley Russell, taking South Africa’s lead to 3-0 in the 40th minute.

A green card for South Africa shortly afterwards gave England an extra player, but both the South African defenders and goalkeeper were equal to any danger. Sam Quek was next to pick up a green card in the 51st minute, and South Africa again capitalised. For a second time it was Terblanche who got the ball into England’s circle, this time enabling Dirkie Chamberlain to put it away with a reverse stick, deftly lifting the ball over Hinch and into the net.

England came back and once White found some space in the South African circle she was able to fire a fine shot across the goal and into the far corner, bringing the score to 4-1 with 15 minutes left on the clock, but none of the players that had chances could beat South Africa’s van Deventer and the final whistle – and England’s hopes of making the semi-finals – went with the score at 4-1 to South Africa and England bottom of their pool.

Click here to find out squad and caps information and to see the other results at the tournament.

England Captain, Kate Richardson-Walsh reflecting on the game today: “We have produced a lot of scoring chances. If you won games on stats we’d be right in there, but of course you don’t. We need to go away, as we always do, and prepare professionally and play for pride and for the shirt we wear, to prove to ourselves on the pitch that we are the players we know we are."

The next time England face South Africa will be at the Investec London Cup on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on Thursday 10th July. This will be the first tournament to be held at hockey’s legacy stadium and will be held across five days from 9th – 13th July. Tickets are available from englandhockey.co.uk/tickets.

England women’s next game is against Argentina on Sunday at 1500 (BST). England’s men play against Australia tomorrow at 1500 (BST). All matches will be shown live on Sky Sports with expert analysis from a host of international stars including Kwan Browne, Richard Mantell, Helen Richardson-Walsh and Chloe Rogers. 

You can find the men's and women's tournament schedules in our International Fixtures section, or all of them together here.