Stewart strikes late to snatch gritty Hockeyroos win

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A brilliant tomahawk goal from Grace Stewart at the death has earned the Hockeyroos a nail biting 2-1 victory against Olympic title holders Great Britain in their FIH Pro League match in Sydney tonight.

The result also ensured defenders Edwina Bone (200 games), Karri McMahon (150) and goalkeeper Jocelyn Bartram (50) celebrated their milestone games on a winning note.

With the Australian backline holding firm under mounting pressure and the clock ticking down towards a third straight Hockeyroos match being decided by a penalty shootout, Steph Kershaw was able to thread a pass through to Stewart to bury home the winner with just 12 seconds remaining.

While pleased to snatch maximum points, Hockeyroos Coach Paul Gaudoin admitted his team was somewhat fortunate to be in front when it counted, although he praised the players’ ability to fight it out to the end and be rewarded.

“It was pleasing to get the win in the end but I would imagine Great Britain would be disappointed with the outcome,” said Gaudoin.

“We were quite messy with the ball and we need to get better with our execution of skill. If you don’t have that then it’s hard to do any tactics, so we’ve got be cleaner on the ball to give our front group a chance to do something of quality.”

“If we’re scratching out a win with the performance we put out tonight, when we start getting it together it will be great.”

A seesawing first quarter saw both sides trade penalty corner opportunities without success, before Great Britain opened the scoring through Sarah Robinson in the 18th minute.

Fourth time was a charm for the visitors after Australia were unable to clear their lines despite Bartram making three saves in quick succession.

Rosie Malone was unable to guide a diving follow up attempt on target, but it mattered little when Greta Hayes assisted Kershaw for the Hockeyroos’ equaliser in the 26th minute.

Great Britain got themselves firmly on top with their midfield swarming the home side’s outlet options and forcing them to play longer passes.

Australia were forced to nullify eight penalty corner opportunities and required Sophie Taylor and Jodie Kenny to courageously block shots before finishing strong in the final minutes.

A brilliant counter attacking move led by Brooke Peris saw two set pieces build pressure on Great Britain before Stewart stole the headlines late on with a reverse stick strike deserving of settling an engrossing encounter.

Bartram was awarded the Player of the Match in her 50th appearance for her role in keeping Great Britain to one goal despite Australia trailing 11-33 in the circle penetrations count.

“I’m really proud of our defensive efforts, particularly on penalty corners where we couldn’t have done it without the girls running it down, so it’s really exciting to get the win today,” said Bartram.

“I just tried to do my job for the team. If we all do our job, then hopefully we get the result and it has dropped our way today so I’m really pleased with that.”

“You dream of playing one cap and then to be standing here having played 50, it just means a whole lot to me and I hope I get to play a bit more for my country.”

Tickets for tomorrow’s match are available through Ticketek, with the matches shown LIVE on Kayo and/or Fox Sports.

Match Details
Hockeyroos 2 (Kershaw 26’, Stewart 60’)
Great Britain 1 (Robertson 18’)
@ Sydney Olympic Park Hockey Centre

Hockeyroos: 1.Sophie Taylor, 2.Rosie Malone, 3.Brooke Peris, 7.Jodie Kenny (c), 8.Georgia Wilson, 11.Karri Mcmahon, 12.Greta Hayes, 13.Edwina Bone, 14.Stephanie Kershaw, 15.Kaitlin Nobbs, 16.Gabi Nance, 18.Jane Claxton, 19.Jocelyn Bartram (gk), 22.Kate Jenner, 23.Kalindi Commerford, 26.Emily Chalker, 30.Grace Stewart
Unused Substitute: 27.Rachael Lynch (gk)

Great Britain: 1.Maddie Hinch (gk), 4.Laura Unsworth, 6.Anna Toman, 7.Hannah Martin, 9.Susannah Townsend, 10.Sarah Robertson, 14.Tessa Howard, 17.Sarah Jones, 20.Hollie Pearne-Webb (c), 22.Elizabeth Neal, 24.Shona McCallin, 26.Lily Owsley, 29.Esme Burge, 31.Grace Balsdon, 33.Izzy Petter, 34.Charlotte Watson, 35.Leah Wilkinson
Unused substitute: 25.Sabbie Heesh (gk)

FIH Pro League 2020 matches – Sydney Olympic Park Hockey Centre

Saturday 25 January
Hockeyroos 3 (Malone 21’, Bone 59’, Commerford 60’)
Belgium 3 (Versavel 33’, Englebert 45’, Nelen 55’)
Hockeyroos win 4-2 on penalties

Sunday 26 January
Hockeyroos 1 (Nance 45’)
Belgium 1 (Duquesne 47’)
Belgium wins 3-1 on penalties

Saturday 1 February
Hockeyroos 2 (Kershaw 26’, Stewart 60’)
Great Britain 1 (Robertson 18’)

Sunday 2 February
Hockeyroos v Great Britain (5:30pm local)

Click here for a full list of the Hockeyroos’ FIH Pro League 2020 fixtures.