New Zealand women's hockey team had too many guns for Scotland in their opening pool B match on the Gold Coast yesterday. New Zealand, ranked fourth in the world, led from start to finish against 18th-ranked Scotland to win comfortably 6-1 and ensure they were not going to be the second-favoured team to lose in successive matches. Earlier, 10th ranked India were surprisingly beaten 3-2 by world number 26, Wales.
Gold Coast 2018 is a memorable occasion for Tauranga Hockey Association with four homegrown players in Sam Charlton, Rose Keddell, Frances Davies and Amy Robinson in the Black Sticks squad.
Against Scotland, the experienced Keddell and Charlton were among the best performers of the New Zealanders in their one-sided opening game.
Charlton played much higher up the pitch in midfield than her usual defensive role, which seemed to suit her. She was able to showcase her attacking skills on the ball and used her speed to good effect.
Charlton was responsible for the first goal that came after eight minutes, with a smart run to the line past two defenders. Her clever reverse cross was deflected in with some style by the classy Kelsey Smith.
Keddell had her moments in possession and narrowly missed scoring in the opening minutes of the third quarter with a fierce reverse drive but did get on the scoresheet for the fifth goal with a deflected shot.
New Zealand went 2-0 up just before the end of the first quarter from a well-worked penalty corner finished off by Brooke Neal.
The opening minutes of the second stanza saw two more goals to New Zealand through Shiloh Gloyn and Smith as Scotland's defensive patterns fell apart after some key substitutions.
Scotland looked more assured in the third quarter as heavy rain fell to test the skill levels of the players as the turf quickly became difficult to manoeuvre on.
But Scotland's improvement to some sort of parity in possession did not last long. Two goals in two minutes from penalty corners finished off by Keddell and Gloyn at the start of the final quarter took New Zealand out to 6-0.
Scotland won three consecutive penalty corners late in the game in their best period on attack and finally got on the scoresheet through a neat deflection to give their gallant players something to cheer about.
New Zealand play Ghana today in what should be another straightforward win, but coach Mark Hager will be looking for some more spark up front from his strikers and better transition from defence to the midfielders.
New Zealand 6 (Kelsey Smith 2, Shiloh Gloyn 2, Brooke Neal, Rose Keddell) Scotland 1 (Heather Howie)
Western Bay athletes in action today
12.30pm NZ Men (Ben O'Dea, Sam O'Dea) v Cyprus
6.20pm New Zealand women (Sam Charlton, Rose Keddell, Frances Davies, Amy Robinson) v Ghana
Live coverage: TVNZ free to air