Hockeyroos stave off Ireland in Hawkes Bay Cup

Hawkes Bay Cup
Ireland 0 Australia 3 (G Parker 2, A Nelson)

Ireland will contest the 5th to 8th place playoffs at the Hawkes Bay Cup as world number three side Australia proved too strong in their quarter-final tie in New Zealand.

The game began at a blistering pace, and rarely relented, as both sides had attempts on goal inside the opening 90 seconds. Megan Frazer set out her stall early on with a jinking run into the circle in the opening minutes but it was the Australians who broke the deadlock in the 11th minute.

Nicci Daly on the attack. Picture: Hamish Buson

Nicci Daly on the attack. Picture: Hamish Burson

A wayward pass led to a long corner which the Hockeyroos used to distribute the ball to Georgie Parker who cleverly dragged Tice the wrong way before shooting low on the reverse.

The Green Army defence remained composed throughout the second quarter as the Australians drove into the attacking third, winning three penalty corners. Ayeisha McFerran made several important saves to give her backline some breathing space.

And they came close to levelling just before the break when Chloe Watkins intercepted and swept to Naomi Carroll who drew a strong stop from Rachel Lynch. Katie Mullan’s follow up went over.

An even third quarter saw the sides differentiated by two cards for Ireland and a deflected goal by Ashleigh Nelson. Neither team had many chances in the period but a green card for Carroll and a yellow for Yvonne O’Byrne gave the Hockeyroos the upper hand.

Nelson, on the cusp of 200 international caps, deflected a training ground corner drag, cleverly injected much wider to the right to Jodie Kenny to fire back at an awkward angle, making it 2-0 in the 40th minute.

McFerran, making some superb saves look simple, denied the Aussies sixth and seventh penalty corners in the opening minutes of the final quarter. Despite the heat and high tempo, Gillian Pinder and Nicci Daly had several darting runs with composed vision and awareness.

But, too frequently, the final pass evaded the Green Army and made goal scoring opportunities hard to come by against an experienced Australian side. Ireland’s sole penalty corner came from persistence by Mullan in the 55th minute but Frazer’s drag was well saved.

The third goal came with five minutes to go. McFerran made a fine first up save but Parker recovered the ball and shot home on the backhand once again.

The Green Army will compete again on Saturday, April 9, against Korea at 1.45pm (NZ time).

A McFerran, Y O’Byrne, M Frazer (Captain), L Tice, N Carroll, G Pinder, C Watkins, n Daly, Z Wilson, D Duke, A O’Flanagan
Subs: C Sargent, N Evans, P Smithwick (GK), H Matthews, S Loughran, E Beatty, K Mullan

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