Results, October 7th
Australia 9 Scotland 0 (men)
England 4 Canada 1 (women)
Australia 2 India 1 (women)
England 4 Trinidad and Tobago 0 (men)
New Zealand 4 South Africa 1 (men)
England’s men made a winning start to their Commonwealth Games campaign despatching Trinidad and Tobago while the women picked up their second victory, defeating Canada.
Neither game was a great advertisement for hockey. Canada took a shock fourth-minute lead from a Diana Roemer penalty stroke after the ball appeared to hit Kate Walsh’s hand near the goal line.
Chloe Rogers (pictured) equalised, tipping in a penalty corner in the 19th minute but it wasn’t until Alex Danson put England ahead four minutes into the second half – a hard reverse stick shot from the left into the right corner – that the tournament favourites started to settle down and find any sort of rhythm.
Meanwhile against England’s men, Trinidad and Tobago seemed set on a policy of absolute defence which we all know corrupts absolutely. Even talented skipper Kwan Browne spent most of his time demonstrating his skills inside his own half.
England, more used to playing the attacking-minded teams now (thankfully) dominating the higher world rankings, were frustrated by the lack of space and some clumsy tackling in a game where the umpires had a tough job to retain control.
Fortunately, a Simon Mantell goal early on settled the nerves and it was just a matter of getting it over with and not getting hurt. Mantell then nudged in England’s second from a Rob Moore cross in the 19th minute, Ashley Jackson scored a corner in the 39th and Alastair Brogdon scored the fourth in the 58th.
England might just regret only netting four which puts them behind New Zealand (who beat the Trinidadians 7-1) at the top of the pool, on goal difference.
Scotland’s men felt the might of the Australian machine and were smacked 9-0. Luke Doerner netted a hat-trick of PCs for Ric Charlesworth’s side, who have already claimed the World Cup and Champions Trophy this year. The lead was 5-0 at halftime with goals from Doerner, Chris Cirello (2), Rob Hammond and Trent Mitton.
In a match played in sweltering conditions at New Delhi’s Major Dayan Chand Stadium, the Kookaburras were in full control from the start, with the pace of Jamie Dwyer and Eddie Ockenden causing problems for the Scots defence. However, they had to wait 14 minutes for the opening goal when Doerner drove the ball high into the net.
That strike opened the floodgates with no-nonsense defender Cirello scoring from close range, and then from a penalty corner, before Mitton finished off a smart move to make it 5-0.
The second half saw the Kookaburras take their foot off the gas, with the Scots mounting some spirited attacks, before Doerner completed his hat-trick and Simon Orchard and Des Abbott completed the rout with late strikes.
After the game Mark Ralph, a veteran of Scotland’s 2006 Commonwealth team, said: “We have to stick to team principles, and our contact in defence has to be ruthless.
“It’s a younger squad now. The older guys have a responsibility, but the young guys need to step up. We are gradually getting better and better and making them better players.”
Australia’s women continued their winning ways albeit with a bit of a scare against India. Teenager Rani Rampal – best young player of the recent World Cup – scored a late goal for the hosts. Shelly Liddelow and Megan Rivers scored for the Hockeyroos.
Alison Bruce knew the skilful Indians would be tricky opponents and the Aussies had room for improvement.
“Coming in we knew it was going to be a tough game. They’re a skilful team that can pull goals out of anywhere. We just wanted to get on top and try to hold our lead,” Bruce said.
“We need to be stronger in the midfield, on the same page with our passers and receivers. We kept getting shoved off the ball. We need to hold our own.”
Thursday’s games (UK time in brackets)
11am (6.30am) Scotland vs Trinidad and Tobago (women)
1pm (8.30am) Wales vs Malaysia (women)
4pm (11.30am) Canada vs England (men)
6pm (1.30pm) India vs Australia (men)
For BBC TV coverage schedule see here