England held by South Africa at Junior World Cup

England U21s celebrate

England 3 (2)
Holly Hunt 6 (FG)
Holly Munro 28 (PC)
Megan Crowson 41 (PS)

South Africa 3 (1)
Natalie Esteves 35 (PC)
Donna Small 52 60 (FG, FG)

England secured their place in the next round of the Junior World Cup but were made to sweat by a stubborn south Africa side who simply would not lie down. Despite racing into a two goal lead inside half an hour thanks to goals from Holly Hunt and Holly Munro but a penalty corner from Natalie Esteves on the stroke of half time brought Bongani Tshutshani’s team back into the contest. It looked like England would go on to get the three points when Megan Crowson converted a second half penalty stroke but two late goals from Donna Small ensured a share of the spoils for both sides.

Craig Keegan’s team began the match as they had against Australia at a fast pace. They had already gone close to breaking the deadlock when Hunt did well to manoeuvre some space in the circle to neatly slot home in the sixth minute.

Alicia Caillard’s penalty corner deflection was well saved by Marlise Van Tonder and then the No1 was on hand to deny Ellie Rayer after a good run and shot from the No13. Charlotte Calnan showed superb pace and skill to break into the circle but she too found Van Tonder in good form, seeing off the strike from the Surbiton star.

South Africa’s pace on the break caused some problems but some good defending from Eloise Stenner kept them at bay. Seven minutes from the interval England’s supremacy was rewarded with a lovely finish from Munro, picking up a loose ball and firing home with aplomb.

However just before the break a well worked slip move off a penalty corner set up Esteves to halve the deficit.

England took control in the early going in the second half. Megan Crowson opened her account for the tournament by slotting in a penalty stroke to make it 3-1.

South Africa fought back and a long driving run from Small opened up the defence and she was able to smash the ball into the far corner to make it 3-2 with 18 minutes to play. Eight minutes later Small was on hand to level it up, snapping up a chance from close range for her second of the match. England were unable to find a way through in the dying embers of the match and were grateful for some stout penalty corner defence at the death to secure a point and a place in the next round.

All the details of the Junior World Cup can be found here.