South Africa were off to a splendid start - taking the lead in the sixth minute when Karen Symonds slipped the ball under goalkeeper Jo Thompson after a breakaway. England pressed hard for the remainder of the first half, but failed to score from a string of penalty corners.
Brigitte Tullis, intercepting Jill Atkins's clearance two minutes into the second half, put South Africa further ahead. The home captain, Ros Howell, completed England's misery in the 50th minute, punishing Lisa Bayliss's defensive lapse for South Africa's third goal.
England's management must take much of the blame for the defeat having agreed to play the second game against Western Province at 7.15 the previous evening. Their manager, Jenny Cardwell, conceded: 'Obviously playing right before was not good preparation and we may need to think again about the rest of the programme.' The teams meet again in Port Elizabeth on Sunday.Reuse content