Preview: Great Britain vs New Zealand

Crista Cullen and Sam Quek celebrate the win over Australia

It’s quarter final time in the Women’s World League Finals and after finishing the pool stages strongly, Great Britain’s reward is a clash with the Blacksticks of New Zealand.

The two sides enjoyed slightly different fortunes in the pool stages with New Zealand winning two of their three games and losing to the Netherlands whilst Great Britain lost to hosts Argentina, drew with a stubborn China and then saved their best game of the tournament so far for the last pool match where they defeated Australia 1-0.

Having been disappointed in his side’s opening match, Head Coach Danny Kerry was much happier having seen his team hold off the World No2:

"I felt we controlled the game, but Australia defended their corners really well which kept the score line close. Australia always carry a threat but we controlled large periods of the game. I think we were trying to use Australia's pressing to create chances and we had eight corners today to their two. That’s a threat but we turned it into an opportunity. After the China game the team realised that the tactics worked, it just didn't go for them in that game and that certainly helped their confidence tonight."

New Zealand have played some free-flowing attacking hockey at this tournament so far, only coming unstuck against a rampant Dutch side. They have netted seven times with Pippa Hayward helping herself to two goals. The Blacksticks’ pace on the counter as well as their range of attacking options makes them a side not to be taken lightly but GB captain Kate Richardson-Walsh has confidence her side will be prepared for the challenge. The work done on the training field at Bisham Abbey once again paid dividends in the Australia game as the captain explains:

“There are a lot of players who have been in difficult situations before so we were able to call on that. But also, every training session we work on dealing with different pressures and that has really paid off. We do a lot of scenario based work where we have to figure it out for ourselves, so when we are under pressure as we were in patches of that game; we all know what we are doing."

The benefits of the “Thinking Thursday” sessions where the Great Britain team have to overcome a series of problems or challenges in gameplay situations have been well documented. Will to win and ability to overcome problems are not accidental traits but ones that Danny Kerry’s side have worked hard to build into their consciousness. They will be hoping to reap the rewards by coming out on the positive side of the pressure-cooker of a big tournament quarter final against New Zealand this evening.

GB vs NZ graphic

Watch all the action live on BT Sport from 19:00 UK time.

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Emily Maguire in GB action