17/04/2024
The Hockeyroos defeated the New Zealand Blacksticks

The Hockeyroos defeated the New Zealand Blacksticks. Image: Australian Olympic Team / Twitter

The Hockeyroos secured their spot at the top of Group B with a 1-0 win over New Zealand in the fourth match of their Tokyo 2020 campaign.

The Hockeyroos extended their unbeaten streak to four matches at Tokyo 2020, their longest streak to start an Olympics. For all your Tokyo 2020 coverage, stay tuned to The Inner Sanctum’s Olympic hub and the Olympics Central.

A 1-0 win over New Zealand was characterised by a high speed of ball movement, and high effort from both sides, in both attack and defence.

The Aussies had eight shots on goal in the match, with three coming from penalty corners. The Aussies struggled with conversion, particularly in the first half, with only four shots on target across the match.

Grace O’Hanlon, who was actually born in Australia was key for the Black Sticks, producing some brilliant saves. At half time, the main talking point was Samantha Charlton.

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She wore a heavy blow that knocked her out of the match, and dented the Kiwi hopes. Going forward in the later stages of the match, they lacked the polish and direction that their captain so often provides.

The deadlock was broken by Emily Chalker early in the third quarter. Savannah Fitzpatrick darted towards the goal line, and flicked the ball across goal. Emily Chalker was waiting at the goalmouth, and was able to flick the ball past O’Hanlon for the match-winning goal.

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Early in the final quarter, Mariah Williams was shown a green card for an intentional stick check, and the Black Sticks were given a prime opportunity to equalise. Unfortunately for them, the Hockeyroos rallied in defence to prevent a score, and almost scored themselves on a counter-attack.

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As the clock started to wind down, the Black Sticks became increasingly desperate and subbed O’Hanlon out with four minutes remaining. The attempt to use the extra player to create an overlap and scoring opportunity was in vain.

The Aussies were able to hold on, as Amy Lawton corralled the ball and bled the clock a little. Following that, in the dying seconds, they were able to launch their own scoring raid, which came up just short as time expired.

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The win secures Australia’s place atop Pool B, with a match remaining against Argentina tomorrow. Following that, they will head into the quarter finals in search of the first Hockeyroos medal since Atlanta 1996.

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