The fierce rivalry between neighbours, Australia and New Zealand, was at its best at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.
Adding to the occasion – it was the women’s hockey final – was the battle of attrition between the supporters in the stands.
Undoubtedly, India, the last edition’s silver medallists, who finished fifth and missed the semi-final berth after losing to South Africa in the their last league match, were missed but the fans enjoyed every moment of the big battle, which became a platform for Australia to stamp their supremacy.
The two teams were locked 2-2 at the end of regulation time and even 15 minutes of extra time didn’t see a change in the score-line. In the tie-breaker, two back-to-back misses dashed the Kiwis’ hopes and the defending champions triumphed by a 4-2 margin.
Jessica Nicole Arrold (9th) and Ashleigh Nelson (59th) struck for the Aussies, while Samantha Harrison (48th) and Clarissa Eshuis (70th) equalized for New Zealand. In the tie-breaker, consecutive misses by Katie Glynn and Krystal Forgesson put the Aussies in a strong position with Ashleigh Nelson and Megan Rivers converting the first two chances with ease.
Things started to tilt in the Kiwis’ favour when Aussie captain Madonna Blyth shot wide and New Zealanders Anita Punt and Kayla Sharland were on target to take the score to 2-3. After Casey Eastham converted Australia’s fourth chance, all eyes were on Jessica Nicole Arrold. She didn’t err and left her teammates celebrating their second successive gold in Commonwealth Games history.
Earlier, former champions England kept their date with bronze, outplaying South Africa by a solitary goal. Kerry Wilson struck the all-important goal in the 13th minute.