Hockey: Scots women vie for promotion

SCOTLAND women's hockey coach Gordon Shepherd's intensive preparation programme for the European Nations Championships in Poznan (8-14 August) - with promotion back to the top level of paramount importance - enter their final stages in Dublin tonight when Scotland begin a capped three-match Test series against 12th-ranked South Africa.

Shepherd had laid out the perfect lead-up programme only to see Italy recently pull out of previously-arranged fixtures and then last week's postponement of planned matches with South Africa in Stirling. So he was eager to reschedule, given the high quality of opposition the Springboks will provide.

He said: "We've pulled out all the stops to get to Dublin and play at a neutral venue due to the visa problems, as it is important for the players to build a high level of performance going into the Europeans in Poznan."

South Africa played Belgium in Antwerp last weekend, winning the first match 4-1 then drawing the second 1-1 before the Belgians levelled the series with a 3-1 win in the final game.