Hockeyroos captain Emily Smith is looking to “get one back” on 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallists New Zealand ahead of Sunday morning’s (AEST) decisive 2018 World Cup encounter in London.
World number five Australia and world number four New Zealand will meet from 5am AEST on Sunday in the final Pool D game to decide final pool placings and who qualifies for the quarter-finals and play-offs.
The top-ranked side from each pool will progress to the final eight, while second and third will go into the knockout play-offs on Tuesday morning (AEST) to fight for a spot in the quarter-finals.
Australia currently sits top of Pool D with four points from two games and are guaranteed to finish in the top three. New Zealand and Japan are second and third respectively with three points, with Belgium fourth on one point.
With pool placings up for grabs, the Hockeyroos will have no shortage of motivation against the Black Sticks with their recent history in mind too.
New Zealand defeated Australia in April’s Commonwealth Games gold medal match on the Gold Coast, while they also knocked the Hockeyroos out of the 2016 Rio Olympics in the quarters.
Australia claimed some revenge with victory in May’s Tri Nations in Queenstown as well as last year’s Oceania Cup in Sydney but they’ll be eager to triumph on the big stage.
“We’ve had this Trans-Tasman rivalry for years,” Crookwell product Smith said.
“We always know it’s going to be a hard-fought game. I’m really looking forward to the challenge.
“They obviously got the better of us at our home Comm Games. That was disappointing and a bit of heartbreak to swallow.
“We need to get them one back. They lost their game (2-1 to Japan on Tuesday) so they’ll be wanting to come out and show the rest of the world why they’re here.
“We want to do the same.”
Australia could’ve put one foot firmly in the quarter-finals if they had have claimed victory over Belgium on Tuesday night, instead settling for a 0-0 draw.
Smith added: “I’d say it was an opportunity missed. That really would’ve set us up well going into the next qualification round but credit to Belgium who defended really doggedly.
“We couldn’t get any clean shots away and their goalkeeper had a blinder. I guess we didn’t execute our PCs.
“We won six short corners and normally that’s enough for us as the Australian team but with a few missed pushes and traps it makes it hard for our key executors to do their job.”
Smith pointed to a lack of big-game experience following Australia’s Commonwealth Games defeat but hoped those lessons would begin to be heeded in London.
“It’s the experience that we’re lacking, especially when it comes to these hard-fought games where you need that bit of spark to create something,” said Smith who turns 26 on gameday this weekend.
“Brooke Peris had some really good runs (against Belgium) and was trying her hardest to give us that extra 10 per cent to lift the whole team.
“Unfortunately we didn’t follow as a whole group and a few basic skill errors let us down.
“We have got a lot of work to do. We are very young and this group will be together for years to come.
“That’s the promising thing, that we’re still competing on the world stage with the group that we have who’ve only been together for one-two years.
“We’re in our juvenile stage for the Tokyo Olympics. Most of the team is under 23 and have a lot left in their career.”
Sunday 22 July 5am – Australia 3 def Japan 2
Tuesday 24 July 11pm – Australia 0 drew with Belgium 0
Sunday 29 July 5am – Australia v New Zealand
Monday/Tuesday 30/31 July TBC – Playoffs
Wednesday/Thursday 1/2 August TBC – Quarter-finals
Saturday 4 August TBC – Semi-finals
Sunday/Monday 5/6 August 11pm/1:30am – Bronze medal/Gold medal match
Australia’s Women’s Hockey World Cup team:
Athlete (Hometown, State)
Jocelyn Bartram (Albury, NSW)
Kristina Bates (Port Melbourne, VIC)
Edwina Bone (Orange, NSW) *Plays for ACT
Kalindi Commerford (Mollymook, NSW) *Plays for ACT
Madison Fitzpatrick (Cabarita Beach, NSW) *Plays for QLD
Emily Hurtz (Sydney, NSW) *Plays for VIC
Jodie Kenny (Wamuran, QLD)
Stephanie Kershaw (Townsville, QLD)
Rachael Lynch (Warrandyte, VIC)
Ambrosia Malone (Burleigh, QLD)
Karri McMahon (Berri, SA)
Georgina Morgan (Armidale, NSW)
Kaitlin Nobbs (Newington, NSW)
Brooke Peris (Darwin, NT)
Kathryn Slattery (South Stirling, WA)
Emily Smith (Crookwell, NSW)
Grace Stewart (Gerringong, NSW)
Renee Taylor (Everton Park, QLD)