Australia maintained their 100% record in the Commonwealth Games with an impressive display to see off England with a 3-0 win. A brace from the in-form Jodie Kenny and an open play goal from Emily Smith did the damage as Adam Commens’ side made it four wins from four and no goals conceded so far in the competition.
England started brightly with Lily Owsley and Alex Danson both looking lively, using their pace and trickery to cause Australia some nervy moments. The first clear chance fell the way of Ellie Watton but Rachael Lynch in the Australian goal did well, rushing from her line and producing an excellent block with her pads.
Despite the good opening by Danny Kerry’s side it was Australia who drew first blood. Kenny fired in a trademark penalty corner in the 11th minute continuing her excellent form in front of goal in the competition. A minute later the Hockeyroos doubled their advantage. A mistake by Kate Richardson-Walsh presented the ball to Emily Smith and despite an initial save from Maddie Hinch the Australian fired home the rebound making it 2-0.
England enjoyed plenty of possession but Australia defended superbly with Kenny colossal in the backline throughout. The Australia No7 had the chance to make it 3-0 with another penalty corner but Hinch got down well to make the save.
Owsley continued to look threatening and with eight minutes in the half remaining the young forward escaped the attentions of her marker inside the D only to lash her shot wide of the far post from a difficult angle.
There was still time for Kenny to line up another penalty corner but on this occasion Laura Unsworth produced a wonderful goal line clearance to keep the ball out and ensure it was still only 2-0 at the break.
The second half took a while to get going with England putting in plenty of effort and endeavour as they tried to pressure the Australians into a mistake. With 50 minutes on the clock, the Hockeyroos demonstrated their ruthlessness in front of goal once again, with Kenny grabbing her second of the match from yet another penalty corner. Australia thought they’d made it 4-0 shortly after but Kellie White’s goal was ruled out on referral after she was deemed to have used the back of her stick to score.
At the other end, Sam Quek’s penalty corner was deflected wide by the runner as England threw the kitchen sink at the Australians in an attempt to get back into the game. With ten minutes remaining, Kenny popped up with an outstanding goal line clearance to deny Giselle Ansley, showing her importance to the Hockeyroos at both ends of the field.
Australia successfully referred to win a penalty corner on the final whistle but Anna Flanagan’s effort was well saved by Hinch ensuring the score remained 3-0. Australia moved clear at the top of the pool off the back of this solid display.
Danny Kerry, England Hockey performance director, said after the game: “I was actually really quite pleased with the performance. Australia were better than us defensively and offensively in both circles but I actually felt for large periods of the game we were playing the more constructive hockey. The reality is that we need to be much tougher in both circles and their corner execution was superior to ours today. We’ve got to debrief this game and we need to play like we did today against Scotland and it will be a close game.”
For England their medal hopes are far from over, a win over Scotland on Wednesday will ensure safe passage to the semi-finals where they will hope to join Australia. The Hockeyroos will be the team everyone wants to avoid, as they have shown once again today.