The Hockeyroos are a win away from clinching top spot in Pool B after an entertaining 0-0 draw with New Zealand in their 2018 Commonwealth Games clash at the Gold Coast Hockey Centre on Monday night.
Australia and New Zealand traded blows throughout an end-to-end contest in front of boisterous crowd where little separated the sides with top spot in Pool B up for grabs.
The Hockeyroos edged the possession count 54-46 and had 34 circle penetrations compared to New Zealand’s 16 but couldn’t find a way through after a strong first half.
The Black Sticks rallied in the second half, led by skipper Stacey Michelsen, but neither side could find a winner.
The result means New Zealand remain top with eight points from four matches, but second-placed Australia – currently on seven points from three matches with an inferior goal difference – can leapfrog them when they play Scotland on Tuesday in their final pool game.
The draw also means Australia are all but assured of a semi-final spot, provided they avoid a heavy defeat to Scotland.
Australia applied the pressure early, with the better of the chances in the first quarter as they made a statement against the fourth-ranked Kiwis.
Brooke Peris’ diagonal shot drew a palmed save from Black Sticks keeper Sally Rutherford in the eighth minute, while Savannah Fitzpatrick slid in to cause danger minutes later too.
Early in the second term, Grace Stewart went on a brilliant individual run before her low cutback somehow eluded Emily Hurtz at the back post.
Rachael Lynch made a good left-footed save in the 20th minute after Michelsen’s drive.
Peris won Australia a penalty corner shortly before half-time after a good forward run, with Jane Claxton and Renee Taylor firing in shots without luck. Peris also forced another save from Rutherford prior to the main break.
The Black Sticks came closest early in the third when Lynch saved low from Sam Charlton’s angled shot.
New Zealand’s Pippa Hayward scooped over the top under pressure from Lynch late in the third as the visitors got on top.
Lynch made another spectacular save with her outstretched left foot from Kelsey Smith’s deflection from Olivia Merry’s baseline cutback.
Australia returned fire in the last quarter, mounting plenty of pressure without any clear-cut chances, while the outstanding Michelsen continued to cause the Hockeyroos issues.
The Hockeyroos will look to clinch top spot in Pool B against Scotland from 9.30pm AEST on Tuesday.
New Zealand 0