Fifth test finishes all square between Australia and Great Britain

Giselle Ansley shoots from a penalty corner vs Australia. Credit Daniel Carson.jpg

Australia 1 (0)
Georgie Parker 31 (FG)

Great Britain 1 (1)
Sarah Haycroft 29 (FG)

Kate Richardson-Walsh became her country’s most capped female player of all time today, making her 356th international appearance but despite Sarah Haycroft’s first goal for Great Britain, Richardson-Walsh and her team were forced to settle for a third consecutive draw against Australia. Richardson-Walsh surpassed the 355 cap mark set by current Assistant Coach Karen Brown when she took to the field to captain Great Britain in Perth this morning. Haycroft’s opener had seemed set to give her the perfect result but Georgie Parker’s goal a minute into the second half spoiled the party and left the series deadlocked at 1-1 with one match to play.

Great Britain started brightly with Susannah Townsend causing the Hockeyroos defence plenty of problems with her pace and direct running. In the defensive third, Sam Quek continued her fine form with a series of excellent tackles to keep Australia at bay. Adam Commens’ side fashioned the first real chance of the match with five minutes to play in the first quarter. Good approach play from Mariah Williams set up Georgie Parker who lashed the bouncing ball at goal only to be foiled by an excellent save from Kirsty Mackay. With under a minute to the break a sweeping move involving Sophie Bray and Hannah Macleod won the first penalty corner of the match for Great Britain. Giselle Ansley, who scored twice in the last match, took the shot but Rachael Lynch made a splendid stick save to her right keeping it level after the first quarter.

The second quarter was a scrappy affair with both sides battling for control of the game. With seven minutes gone in the second period Williams forced a penalty corner for Australia. Jodie Kenny opted for the straight hit which was well saved by Maddie Hinch, who had come on for Kirsty Mackay at quarter time. Bray and Townsend then made a fantastic counterattack, driving from deep inside the Great Britain half to set up Sarah Robertson whose backhand strike was well saved by Lynch. Bray stung the goalkeeper’s gloves once again moments later with a fierce shot from a wide angle as Danny Kerry’s side put the hosts under immense pressure. That pressure paid off with a minute to go to half time. Helen Richardson-Walsh won the ball high up the pitch and burst clear; she drew the goalkeeper and slipped the ball to Haycroft who made no mistake to make it 1-0.

Australia levelled the scores immediately after the restart. Parker’s first shot was saved by Mackay but the No19 was able to force the rebound through the goalkeeper’s legs to make it all square. Australia won a penalty corner five minutes later. Georgina Morgan took the shot but she scuffed her effort and Great Britain cleared. From another set piece Kenny tried her luck but Hannah Macleod bravely charged the shot down. Great Britain rallied and Susie Gilbert was unlucky to have her backhand shot charged down by the defender. With a minute to go in the quarter the Hockeyroos had another corner. They worked the ball around the circle but Mackay did well to block Kenny’s shot with Ashleigh Nelson blasting the rebound over the bar.

The final quarter settled into much the same pattern with neither side able to assert control. Haycroft showed great pace once again to break into the circle but she had little support and was crowded out by the Hockeyroos defence. Townsend had a clear sight of goal after some fine skills and determination from Joie Leigh but the Canterbury star couldn’t find the target. Despite plenty of attacking intent from both sides, neither could break the defence down and it stayed 1-1 at the final whistle.

Danny Kerry, Great Britain Head Coach:

“It was a much improved performance today and a more evenly matched game. We showed better understanding and intent.”

“Kate Richardson-Walsh’s achievement today in becoming our most ever capped player is quite simply phenomenal. Her passion and resilience is an example to all.”

Kate Richardson-Walsh:

“It was a really special moment to be out there today with Helen [Richardson-Walsh]. We’ve played together so many times and we’ve been through so many ups and downs so it was really special to share this with her. Coming out here we knew it’d be tight and tough it’s always like that against Australia. It’s all to play for in the last match. It’s exciting for the crowd and exciting for us and we’re looking forward to the final game.”

The series is now tied at one game apiece with one left to play. The next match is on Sunday 21 February at 7am UK time. For details on the scheduling, click here.

To watch the matches live, click here.

Both these sides will be competing in the Women’s Champions Trophy this coming summer at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, London. See the Hockeyroos and Great Britain, plus Netherlands, USA, Argentina and New Zealand fight it out to be crowned the best of the best. All the details are here.