FIH Hockey Pro League action continued in Christchurch, New Zealand with Hockeyroos taking on Great Britain, followed by Black Sticks taking on Great Britain men. Hockeyroos avenged their loss in the reverse fixture by registering a come-from-behind 3-1 win before Great Britain men made it three wins in three using a late first half burst of 3 goals in 3 minutes to break the back of the hosts defence and won by a final scoreline of 6-1. With the wins, Australia move to within 2 points of Argentina at the top of the women’s Pro League table, while Great Britain’s unbeaten run now takes them to within 1 point of India at the top of the men’s Pro League table, with both teams having a game in hand over the current table toppers.
(Women’s) Great Britain vs Australia 1-3
Great Britain won the first head-to-head matchup between the two sides by dominating the Hockeyroos early and they continued to do the same in their second encounter. Tessa Howard nearly scored inside 5 minutes, from a brilliant Hannah Martin cross that found her unmarked in front of the goal, but her attempted deflection went wide. She wouldn’t be denied for too long though, as her deflection on a low penalty corner shot in the 10th minute gave her team the lead. Australia scored from their first real opportunity of the half in the final minute as a missed trap by the GB defence allowed Cullum-Sanders to steal possession and her powerful cross was deflected in by Rebecca Greiner.
Australia carried their momentum into the second half and snatched the lead from their first penalty corner of the game as a shot by Renee Taylor deflected off a defensive stick and thumped into the roof of the net. Australia kept up the pressure, completely reversing the trend from the first half. They found the fourth goal of the game in the final quarter as Pearne-Webb lost possession inside the defensive circle and it was once again the combination of Cullum-Sanders, who tapped the ball away, and Rebecca Greiner, whose powerful shot found the top right corner to perfection, that doubled Australia’s lead.
Rebecca Greiner was awarded player of the match and said: “It’s a process and while the goal was important, the process was more so. It’s always a physical battle against Great Britain, but we were prepared for it.”
(Men’s) New Zealand vs Great Britain 1-6
New Zealand and Great Britain played an entertaining first half as the two sides traded possession in an end to end encounter, although New Zealand didn’t convert their circle entries into shots. Neither side could find an opener in the first quarter but the momentum was kept up in the second quarter and the first goal opened the floodgates for Great Britain. Sam Ward scored twice in two minutes, first coming from a deflection off a great cross by Will Canlan, followed by a drag flick from a penalty corner. Nick Bandurak added a third in the three minutes, drastically changing the complexion of the game in a breathtaking phase of play.
Bandurak scored his second and GB’s fourth early in the second half as New Zealand turned over possession under heavy pressure and Sam Ward found Bandurak all alone in the circle with just the keeper to beat. Sam Ward completed his hat-trick with a running tomahawk shot that snuck under the legs of Black Sticks’ keeper Enersen. New Zealand finally got on the board with 10 minutes left in the game with David Brydon making the best of a failed trap from a penalty corner to take the ball into the circle and unleash a powerful hit that deflected off a defender’s stick and beat Mazarelo to his left. Zach Wallace added a sixth for Great Britain, winning and scoring a penalty stroke in the 57th minute.
Sam Ward was awarded the player of the match and said: “The team played really well, we put on a lot of pressure and it was incredible to see it pay off in the way it did.”
FIH Pro League – 28 April 2023
Nga Puna Wai Hockey Stadium, Christchurch (NZL)
Result: Women’s Match 34
Great Britain 1-3 Australia
Player of the Game: Rebecca Greiner (AUS)
Umpires: Amber Church (NZL), Emi Yamada (JPN), Gareth Greenfield (NZL-video)
Result: Men’s Match 33
New Zealand 1-6 Great Britain
Player of the Game: Sam Ward (GBR)
Umpires: Gareth Greenfield (NZL), Steve Rogers (AUS), Aleisha Neumann (AUS-video),