Simpson seals it

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RHONA SIMPSON'S 28th-minute goal, her fourth in the last five games, was enough to give Britain a 1-0 victory here yesterday over South Africa and the one point they required to qualify for next year's Olympics in Atlanta. Back home in Hounslow, Britain's men were held to a 1-1 draw by the Pan-American champions, Argentina.

A relieved British women's coach, Sue Slocombe, said after the game: "It is a dream I have had for a long time. I have always wanted to take a team to the Olympics but I would not like to live through the last week again."

With China coming from behind to beat Argentina 2-1 in the first game of the day, Britain knew that they needed at least one point from their last game and sensibly decided that they would attack from the first whistle. But it was South Africa who might have drawn first blood at an 11th-minute penalty corner which went adrift before Jane Sixsmith, with a dazzling 70-yard dash, won the first of two early penalty corners.

With Sixsmith tantalising the Springbok defence from all angles, it seemed only a matter of time before a goal would come. When it did, it was brilliantly set up by Sixsmith down the right wing. Cutting in along the back line, she forced the ball through a ruck of players to Simpson to deflect the ball high into the net.

South Africa, spurred on by a large and appreciative crowd, came back at Britain after the interval but, with the British captain Jill Atkins in impressive form, Jo Thompson in goal was hardly troubled.

In midfield there was the now expected gutsy performance from Tammy Miller, who has played throughout most of this tournament with a dislocated shoulder. Sue MacDonald should have put the result beyond any doubt but with 10 minutes remaining she lofted a penalty stroke against the crossbar, and it was a relieved British team that heard that welcoming final whistle.

The men fought back from a goal down to draw 1-1 with Argentina in the second of two internationals here yesterday, after their 4-2 win in the week, writes Peter Colwill at Hounslow.

The Pan-American champions went ahead in the 18th minute when Leandro Baccaro swept in a rebound from Maximiliano Caldas's penalty-corner shot. In the move leading to the corner, Jorge Lombi had hit the bar.

Ten minutes later, Britain equalised. There seemed little danger when Ben Sharpe crossed from the right, but a fortuitous deflection allowed Howard Hoskin to steal in at the far post and score his first international goal on his second appearance.

David Luckes kept Britain on course with a fine save from Rodolfo Perez with 15 minutes left, but the match ended with the Argentinian goalkeeper Rodolfo Schmitt making a spectacular dive to deny Bobby Crutchley in the penultimate minute.