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Scotland were swept aside in the final quarter at Titwood in the third Test last night to trail 2-0 in the five-match series against a side ranked six places above them in the world and on their way to the London Olympics, writes Craig Madden.
The Scots fell behind in only four minutes when Kathleen Taylor sent a reverse stick shot past the debutant goalkeeper Nicki Cochrane. Sarah Robertson had a shot saved and a Nikki Kidd effort flew wide as the Scots hit back and, midway through the half, Sam Judge's direct shot at a penalty corner went in off a defender's stick.
Two minutes into the second half, Kidd`s low drag-flick from a penalty corner went in off the goalkeeper's stick but Jennifer Wilson deflected the ball past Cochrane for a South Africa equaliser. Holly Cram had a chance to put the Scots ahead but the visitors took control and Karen Bright, from a setpiece rebound, and Sulette Damons, with a fierce low shot, put the game beyond the Scots.
n Ian Moodie, the Western Wildcats midfielder, and Edinburgh University's Callum Duke received their first call-ups as Derek Forsyth, Scotland men's new head coach, names his squad for a three-Test series against Spain in Terrassa this weekend. It is fitting reward for consistent displays for their clubs in the national league, especially from Duke who has had injury issues in the last couple of seasons.
The games begin preparations for opening round of the inaugural World League in Lousada this September. "Our longer-term aim is to build a squad to achieve success in European competitions next summer and the Commonwealth Games in 2014," said Eugene Connolly, the manager.
"With the loss of Great Britain players like Niall Stott and others retiring, the squad lacks experience. Playing top teams like Spain will help their knowledge and experience."
Spain, 17 places above the Scots in the world rankings and in the final stages of their preparation for the London Olympics, will certainly be a tall order for the young Scotland squad on their first outing of the season.
SQUAD. Scotland (three-Test series v Spain) J Cachia (Sheffield), A Dick (Holcolme), M Bremner, I Scholefield, W Marshall, C Nelson, A Forsyth, G Hall (Glynhill Kelburne), W Adams (AMN Hillhead), D Coultas (Durham Uni), G McIntyre (Beeston), C Grassick (Inverleith), C Duke (Edinburgh Uni), K Bain (THC Hurley), F Dunn (Surbiton), G Byers (Grove Menzieshill), I Moodie (Western Wildcats), R Anderson (Brooklands)
n Great Britain men recovered some of their composure to beat pool leaders New Zealand 2-1 in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup yesterday, and move into third place in the table, two behind the Kiwis and Argentina. Ashley Jackson and Matt Daly scored first-half goals and Andrew Hayward pulled one back from a penalty corner for New Zealand.
Tributes have been paid to Stevie Duff, Basketball Scotland's performance chief, who has died suddenly aged 44, writes Mark Woods. Duff, whose own promising playing career was curtailed by a knee injury, became a visible and respected advocate for wheelchair basketball, serving as the assistant coach to the Great Britain national team at the 2008 Paralympics.
Before he joined Basketball Scotland last year, he had been lauded for growing the sport in East Lothian, as well as helping to building the Musselburgh-based Peregrines club. "Stevie's enthusiasm, drive and commitment to the sport made him the perfect candidate for the head of basketball," said Andy McSweeney, Basketball Scotland's head of operations. "During his time with us, he demonstrated his passionate belief that we could work as a team to create better opportunities for everyone involved in the game in Scotland.."
Duff had greatest influence in disability sport, including a key role with the leading wheelchair club Lothian Phoenix. "On and off the court, Stevie was greatly loved and respected by all who knew him," said British Wheelchair Basketball's chief executive, Charlie Bethel. "He made a tremendous impact upon wheelchair basketball: not only had he been the assistant coach of both the GB junior and women's teams, but he was at the forefront of the sport in Scotland. He will be missed by us all as friend, coach and player."
Jeff Hutchins, Dundee Stars' new player-coach, yesterday made the Dundee-born forwards Vince Connon and Tristan Harper and defenceman Sam McCluskey his first three signings, writes Nigel Duncan. He hopes to capitalise on the determination of the three Scots to re-build their careers. Connon, 20, spent two years at the Ontario Hockey Academy, but was dropped by Stars' Scottish rivals Braehead Clan. Harper, 23, suffered a shoulder injury which required surgery and 21-year-old McCluskey was selected for the Great Britain side but released by Hull Stingrays.
n Danny Stewart, the Canadian forward, yesterday re-signed for Fife Flyers and will also be Todd Dutiaume's assistant player/coach. He claimed 39 points in 57 games last season despite having to play with an ankle injury for a spell.
n Clubs will play 52 games in the Elite League next season, a cut of two from last term. The 10-strong league has been split into two conferences with Braehead Clan, Hull Stingrays, Dundee Stars, Fife Flyers and Edinburgh Capitals in one group and Belfast Giants, Cardiff Devils, Coventry Blaze, Nottingham Panthers and Sheffield Steelers in the other.
Teams will play the other sides in their conference four times at home and four away and they will all take on teams from the other conference twice at home and twice away. The top eight teams will contest the play-off quarter-final over two legs, with group winners as the two top seeds. All teams can now have 11 imported players, instead of 10.
Nathan Hines, Clermont Auvergne's 35-year-old Scotland international lock, is a major injury worry for his club's French Championship semi-final against Toulon on Sunday, writes Colin Renton. He is still suffering from the rib injury he sustained in last month's Heineken Cup semi-final defeat against Leinster, while Clermont also have concerns over three other players for the match which will take place on neutral territory in Toulouse.