Hockeyroos go down to NZ Black Sticks
26 June 2015
HOCKEY: The Hockeyroos went down 2-0 to their New Zealand Black Sticks rivals in a typically tight trans-Tasman affair at the Hockey World League, a result that keeps the Australian women in second place in the pool.
Kiwi Anita Punt’s penalty corner goal early in the third quarter was all that separated the sides until the later stages when Ella Gunson found space inside the Australian circle to convert a reverse stick strike from the penalty spot.
Before the match, Australian captain Madonna Blyth was celebrated as the Hockeyroos’ most capped player ever as she took to the field for the 304th time, surpassing former captain and Sydney Olympic gold medallist Nikki Hudson’s 303-game record.
Speaking afterwards, Hockeyroos coach Adam Commens said, “I thought it was as expected, a really intense and difficult match. New Zealand played well on the counter, which they do always, and they can go full length of the pitch on their counter.
“We created some really good opportunities and didn’t finish them. We’ve been quite effective with our penalty corner attack throughout the tournament and unfortunately that deserted us today. But I thought we created more than enough field goal scoring opportunities. We didn’t make the most of those opportunities where, at the other end, New Zealand did.
“They know how we want to play and we know how they want to play. It’s just about who executes a game plan. I thought [New Zealand’s] Stacey Michelsen and Anita Punt were very good again and the other players around them play some pretty good camero roles. They do their job well.
“I was disappointed with our ability up front to create opportunities when we had space. When you have space you’ve got to make something of it, you can’t just play it into the defence and not use that space. That was a little disappointing today. I know we can be better and I’m pretty confident we will be in the next matches.”
Acknowledging the remarkable achievement of his captain, Commens said of Madonna Blyth, “Madonna’s had a wonderful career and you can see by her performances at this tournament that real competitive nature, that ability to win balls, get going quickly and create things.
“She’s been the life blood for the Hockeyroos going on now ten or 11 years. She’s really led by example. I’ve said it many times before that she’s an example to all young players coming through of how you want to be and how you’d want to present yourself on and off the pitch, at training and in competition.”
Hockeyroo Rachael Lynch was the busier of the two goalkeepers. The Victorian stopper pulled off a string of critical saves in the opening quarter and again early in the third, shortly before Punt’s drag flick found the inside of the net.
Despite their endeavours and quick attacking style, the Hockeyroos’ goal shots were limited. Penalty corner specialist Jodie Kenny went close from her set pieces but her slingshot efforts flew narrowly over the top, while Kathryn Slattery also came close for Australia with a reactive flick on a deflected ball that dropped narrowly wide.
Jane Claxon was denied late on when New Zealand goalkeeper Sally Rutherford kept out her powerful strike from the edge of the circle.
The Hockeyroos remain second in Pool B, three points behind leaders New Zealand and ahead of third place hosts Belgium on goal difference. India, Australia’s opponents on Saturday, sit three points further back in fourth place, ahead of Poland, who have completed their four matches, suffering four defeats.
Australia’s match against India is at 4:00am AEST on Sunday, 28 June.
Hockeyroos squad v New Zealand
Name (Hometown/State) Caps/Goals
Madonna Blyth (Brisbane, QLD) 303/67
Kirstin Dwyer (Mackay, QLD) 76/2
Anna Flanagan (Canberra, ACT) 146/33
Jodie Kenny (Wamuran, QLD) 140/83
Rachael Lynch (Warrandyte, VIC) 122/0
Karri McMahon (Berri, SA) 66/7
Brooke Peris (Darwin, NT) 56/9
Casey Sablowski (South Coast, NSW) 225/44
Kathryn Slattery (South Stirling, WA) 18/5
Emily Smith (Crookwell, NSW) 120/49
Mariah Williams (Parkes, NSW) 17/2
Teneal Attard (Mackay, QLD) 209/10
Edwina Bone (Evatt, ACT) 74/2
Jane Claxton (Adelaide, SA) 63/5
Georgia Nanscawen (Melbourne, VIC) 158/31
Ashleigh Nelson (Wagin, WA) 178/63
Georgie Parker (Berri, SA) 79/25
Ashlee Wells (Morwell, VIC) 50/0
Match Schedule - Hockeyroos' Fixtures (dates and times all AEST)
28 June – Hockeyroos v India – 02:00 AEST
30 June – TBC - Quarter Final
2 July – TBC - Semi Final / Classification
4 July – TBC - Medal Matches / Classification
In Australia, Fox Sports is broadcasting the Hockeyroos' matches (and those of the Kookaburras) live from the World League.