Australia 4, Ireland 1
On day two at the Investec London Cup, Australia, playing their second game in Pool B, faced an Ireland side ranked 14th in the world. Having narrowly missed out to the Netherlands yesterday, the girls from down under were hoping to put in a commanding performance to continue to press for a semi-final spot.
Ireland arrived having played very little hockey since missing out on Olympic qualification in March and they took some time to settle into the game while Australia looked lively and dangerous from the outset.Australia’s impressive display in first half finishing ultimately meant they came out 4-1 winners.
Australia came out of the blocks quickly, immediately attacking the Ireland circle with their lively style. Two early goals from Fiona Boyce and Emily Smith – both from close range after flowing moves - put the Hockeyroos in an early commanding position before, mid-way through the half, Australia went 3-0 up from the first penalty corner of the game; Jodie Schulz firing home high into the top corner. Ireland goalkeeper Emma Gray, winning her 50th cap, had to be on top form to keep Australia at bay as they won a string of penalty corners as Megan Rivers and Casey Eastham pulled the strings.
Gray could do little about Casey Eastham’s reverse stick goal to make it 4-0 after the youngster added the final touch to a deflected cross. Ireland used the aerial ball to relieve pressure with Chloe Watkins enjoying success on the counter attack for Ireland as she weaved her way into the circle, but again the final touch eluded the girls in green. Ireland’s consolation came in the 55th minute when a quickly taken free hit into the circle was met by Nicola Daly at the back post for 4-1.
Reflecting on the game, his first in charge, Ireland coach Denis Pritchard said: “The Australian strength on the ball was really good but I thought we adjusted very well in the second half”.
Just missing out on a place at the London Olympics meant Ireland came into the Investec London Cupwith a different focus to many of the other teams as coach Pritchard explained: “We’ve got some young players here and we’ve come with the intention of improving individually. I thought Emma Gray made some very good saves and I’m really pleased for her on her 50th cap.”
Ireland’s second match of the tournament is against the World’s number one side, the Netherlands, at 5:30pm on Thursday.
Germany 1, South Africa 0
The second match of the day saw came from Pool B as South Africa took on Germany at the Investec London Cup. The Germans, ranked third in the world, won the game 1-0, despite a gutsy performance from South Africa who made Germany fight hard for the narrow victory.
The first half was even with very few chances for either side. Germany looked dangerous on the attack and it was Eileen Hoffman who made the breakthrough for her side after 30 minutes to score what proved to be the decisive goal. The second half saw more even play, however it was South Africa who looked the most likely to score in the closing minutes, winning a series of penalty corners but it was not to be and the game finished 1-0.
Speaking after the game, Germany’s Head Coach Michael Behrmann said, “We have had three weeks off coming into this tournament and that showed at times today, however we won our first match and that is really important on the way to London.”
South African Assistant Coach, Fabian Gregory, said “After the high of yesterday [when South Africa beat Great Britain 3-1] it was a bit tough today, but I think the girls can be extremely proud and I’m excited about the progress we have made.”
Germany’s match with Great Britain is a ‘must win’ tie for the host, for whom a two goal victory is required if they are to make Saturday’s semi finals.
TV Highlights & Live Finals Day Coverage
Fans can see highlights of day one at the Investec London Cup on Sky Sports 4 at 6:30am on Thursday and highlights of tonight's matches at 7:00pm on Thursday. The full TV schedule for Sky Sports, including Sunday's five and a half hour hockey marathon, is here.
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