No matter what the code it’s one of the most fiercely contested rivalries in sport and when New Zealand take on Australia in the Women’s Hockey World Cup on Sunday things will be no different.
The Vantage Black Sticks Women’s loss to Japan on Wednesday and Australia’s failure to beat Belgium means there’s everything to play for in Pool D.
New Zealand’s route to a quarter-final is simple, they must win the pool and to do that they need to beat Australia on Sunday and need either Belgium to beat Japan, draw with Japan or Japan to beat Belgium by the same amount of goals or less than the Kiwis beat Australia.
If the Vantage Black Sticks Women top the group they’ll face the winner of a crossover match between the 2nd place team in pool C, possibly Germany or Argentina or the 3rd placed team in Pool D, one of Australia, Japan or Belgium.
A New Zealand defeat or draw would leave them in a scramble for 2nd and 3rd place and a fight with Japan and Belgium to qualify for the crossover matches which will decide the four remaining quarter-finalists.
The recent head to head between New Zealand and Australia is intriguing. Australia beat the Vantage Black Sticks Women three times at the Pioneer Energy Tri-Nations series held in Cromwell in May this year.
But just a month earlier on the Gold Coast, when it mattered most, New Zealand beat Australia 4-1 in the final of the Commonwealth Games to claim the Gold Medal. Olivia Merry, Shiloh Gloyn, Anita McLaren and Rose Keddell were all on target that day and are likely to be involved again on Sunday.
Despite New Zealand sitting 4th to Australia’s 5th in the world rankings, it’s the Hockeyroo’s who have the historical upper hand. Since 1983 Australia have won 27 matches against New Zealand, the Kiwis have only run out winners on 9 occasions.
Whatever happens it’s sure to be another Trans-Tasman classic, you can watch the match on Sky Sport 4 on Sunday 29th July at 7am.