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Women’s Hockey World Cup: Australia and New Zealand renew battles

Australia are aiming to top the pool PIC: World Sport Pics

By Richard Bright

New Zealand has ‘no fear’ while Australia ‘need to get them one back’. The trans-Tasman rivals go head-to-head on Saturday night, with table topping Pool D up for grabs.

The Hockeyroos lead on four points while the Commonwealth champions are a point back in an ever-so-tight group.

Stacey Michelsen, the Black Sticks captain, said: “I don’t think we have fear, we respect the opposition but I think for us it’s just about focusing on the way we want to play, hopefully we can play the way we played at the Commonwealth Games.”

New Zealand beat the Hockeyroos in the Commonwealth Games final in April to take out the gold medal.

Australia captain Emily Smith said: “They obviously got the better of us at our home Comm Games. That was disappointing and a bit of heartbreak to swallow.

“We need to get them one back.”

They will aim to do so by lifting their penalty corner routines, after failing to notch in their six attempts in the 0-0 draw with Belgium.

“Our PCs, in our first game (3-2 win over Japan) were really solid,” goalkeeper Rachael Lynch said.

“We were at 50 per cent with two out of four converted. Against Belgium we didn’t score any of those and they’re crucial now in the women’s game.

Brooke Neal steps out to defend against Kathryn Slattery PIC: FIH

“They can be game-changers if you can put a few away.”

Australia have played New Zealand seven times in the past 12 months, winning five clashes.

The Hockeyroos’ only defeat to the Black Sticks in the past year came in the Commonwealth final, while the sides drew their pool match 0-0 on the Gold Coast.

New Zealand coach Mark Hager refusing to be drawn into a war of words.

The Aussie native said: “We don’t go near it, it’s not in our culture or nature to get into banter with them, we just concentrate on our game and make sure we do our job well and let the result take care of itself.”

The Hockey Paper’s World Cup coverage is supported by St. Bert’s Clothing – SUMMER SALE

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