The penultimate day of FIH Hockey Pro League action from Christchurch saw Great Britain women and men face off against New Zealand and Australia respectively. It was the women’s teams going head-to-head first with Great Britain dominating the hosts, winning 6-1. The men’s match was an end-to-end affair, with the teams tied at 3-3 at full time. Australia won the ensuing shoot-out and took the bonus point from the encounter.
(Women’s) New Zealand vs Great Britain 1-6
Great Britain scored 63 seconds into the game with Petter getting on the end of a cross from Crackles from the left. 3 minutes later it was 2-0, as this time it was a powerful shot from the right by Tessa Howard that was smartly deflected in by Darcy Bourne on the far post. The second quarter was much of the same with New Zealand struggling to get out of their own defence against the high press by Great Britain. GB added a third with Grace Balsdon sending her drag flick from a penalty corner perfectly into the top right corner. The home team pulled one goal back from their first penalty corner of the game as Cotter found the bottom right corner of the goal with a low driven shot.
Second half produced a more even battle as New Zealand gained confidence from their late first half goal and started to string passes together, playing out of the back against the high press by GB. Great Britain however survived the phase of play and regained control of the game in the final quarter. Tessa Howard scored early in the final quarter, getting on the end of a cross by Owsley, restoring the visitors’ 3-goal lead. Hannah Martin added a fifth goal, deflecting a flick by Balsdon from Great Britain’s sixth penalty corner of the game. The visitors hit a sixth goal in the final minute with Giselle Ansley scoring her second of the mini-tournament from a penalty corner.
Hannah Martin was awarded player of the match and said: “Given our situation coming into the mini-tournament off the back of no points from our first four games, the three wins and nine points are huge for us and the girls have worked really hard to get where we are now as a team.”
(Men’s) Great Britain vs Australia 3-3 (SO: 2-4)
Australia were all over Great Britain in the first quarter, employing a high and intense press inside their 25. They turned the ball over multiple times and dominated possession. They made all their pressure count, opening the scoring through a Joel Rintala drag flick off the first penalty corner of the game. Great Britain managed to get on level terms in the second quarter as Sam Ward was left completely open in the circle on a free hit and his deflection lifted the ball over Charter and into the goal.
Midway through the third quarter James Mazarelo made one of the saves of the season, lunging to his right to stop a shot by Sharp that looked destined to ruffle the net. Great Britain went into attack on the other end and won a penalty corner that Zach Wallace converted to complete a remarkable turnaround. Australia were back on level terms early in the final quarter with Rintala’s cross from the left deflected into the goal inadvertently by David Ames. Australia won a penalty stroke midway through the fourth but Payne went the right way to stop Ephraums shot and keep the scores level. Once again a great save brought a goal for Great Britain, as Rupert Shipperly scored from a penalty corner. Australia turned on pressure in the final minutes and found a goal as Zalewski was allowed to run into the circle and his shot towards the goal was deflected in by Joel Rintala for a second consecutive hat-trick!
The game headed into the shoot-outs and Australia came away winners on a 4-2 margin with Andrew Charter starring in goal for the Kookaburras.
Joel Rintala was awarded player of the match and said: “We had to mount a comeback and to be able to cap that off in the final quarter and finish it off in the shoot-outs felt pretty great. Feels very good to get a second hat-trick in my third appearance too.”
FIH Pro League – 29 April 2023
Nga Puna Wai Hockey Stadium, Christchurch (NZL)
Result: Women’s Match 35
New Zealand 1-6 Great Britain
Player of the Game: Hannah Martin (GBR)
Umpires: Aleisha Neumann (AUS), Emi Yamada (JPN), Steve Rogers (AUS-video)
Result: Men’s Match 35
Great Britain 3-3 Australia (SO: 2-4)
Player of the Game: Joel Rintala (AUS)
Umpires: Gareth Greenfield (NZL), Steve Rogers (AUS), Emi Yamada (JPN-video)