Saturday, April 20, 2024

England v Australia: Commonwealth Games Hockey women’s preview

Birmingham — The trilogy of ‘Super Sunday’ finals scuppered, England will go it alone on Sunday afternoon. They will attempt to conquer their own hockey hoodoo and beat the Hockeyroos at the third time of asking in a Commonwealth Games final.

Australia will play for their fifth gold in seven editions here, while England are three-time silver medallists. After their semi-final heroics and England cricket and netball teams faltering, all eyes will be on the University of Birmingham at 3pm. 

To find that top podium platform, England will need to step up in creativity and be ruthless in the final third. They have the defence, while David Ralph’s side need to rely less on the wall at the back. The key to gold will be being clinical at corners and not relying on Lily Owsley and Sophie Hamilton to create space. 

England captain Hollie Pearne-Webb will be one of five players who were mere seconds away from the Commonwealth title at Glasgow 2014, and has now urged her team-mates to grasp a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in front of a home crowd.

“Experience is important and a number of us were in that final in Glasgow against Australia, we’ve all got those memories and we know that we need to step up,” Pearne-Webb said.

England players please the 6,000 crowd at University of Birmingham PIC: WORLDSPORTPICS ADY KERRY

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in front of a home crowd. Hopefully the experienced players will help those who’ll be playing in their first final.

“A number of us think of winning the final in Glasgow against Australia and then conceding with 11 seconds to go. We’ve all got those memories and I think we know that we need to step up and we need to perform.”

Hinch, the shoot-out supremo in the semi-final, added: “We’re going to be really up for it. The biggest thing we have over them is that home crowd, that’s hugely important and I can’t wait to hear them again on Sunday.”

After two defeats in Commonwealth finals on British soil – India beat England in 2002 – world bronze medallists Australia will start as slight favourites. After a three-month tour of Europe, they have one final stretch to negotiate. They have reached the final, having conceded one goal in five games. 

Rosie Malone strikes on goal for the Hockeyroos during the World Cup PIC: WORLDSPORTPICS/ RODRIGO JARAMILLO

That came against India in the last four, a match tainted by the clock not starting for the shoot-out. Rosie Malone, a former footballer turned consistent Hockeyroo  performer, is relishing the final match up.

She said: “For any athlete it means the world to come to something like the Commonwealth Games, especially after the two years we’ve had with Covid. To have a crowd is unreal. I don’t even care if England’s all against us. It’s just so cool to have an atmosphere.

“We’ve done heaps of work on being able to shift our mindset quickly, accept what happened and move on to the next thing. That [beating India] was a great example of how far our group’s come with those things.”

STAT ATTACK

England and Australia rarely play each other. Due to the nature of the GB programme, they revert to England after an Olympics to play European Championships, and will only meet the Hockeyroos at World Cups or Commonwealths. Australia have won their last eight meetings stretching back to 2013.

Total Hockey

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