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Hockey - 08. February 2013.

Investec Challenge - England women v Australia

Australia too strong for England
Nicola White scores late but Australia are too strong for England

England Hockey Results Service
Investec Challenge, Cape Town, South Africa
Thursday, 7 February 2013

Australia 3 (1)
Anna Flanagan 15 (PS)
Jodie Schulz 41 (PC)
Georgia Nanscawen 58 (F)

England 1 (0)
Nicola White 68 (PC)

Despite a gutsy performance by England in their final pool match of the Investec Challenge in Cape Town, opponents Australia were too strong, coming out 3-1 victors. The Hockeyroos had a one goal advantage going into the break and then extended their lead to 3-0 before Leicester's Nicola White pulled back a consolation goal for England in the 68th minute, but the game was already won.

The victory leaves Australia top of the table with one more fixture between hosts South Africa and the Netherlands to be played before the semi-finals on Saturday. England will have to wait for the result to see who they will face.

Speaking after the game team leader Karen Brown reflected on the performance, "I have been really pleased with the effort the girls have shown out here and I think, given the relative inexperience, we have done well to compete for significant periods today. That said however, we do not have a full 70 minutes of consistency yet and that is vital if we are to compete against a side like Australia."

The game marked Loughborough Students' Laura Unsworth's 50th appearance in an England shirt while Pinoke's (NED) Beckie Herbert now has 100 combined international caps for Great Britain and England.

The first half of the match in Cape Town was a relatively even affair, with both sides keeping possession well and creating chances, but after 15 minutes it was Australia that made the first breakthrough. The umpire ruled a deliberate foul in the circle and awarded the Hockeyroos a penalty stroke which Anna Flanagan duly stepped up and drove the ball past Bowdon Hightown's Kirsty Mackay in goal.

Despite creating some good chances and strong play from Reading's Susie Gilbert and Beeston's Hollie Webb England found themselves a goal down going into half time.

England came out fighting hard, but as Karen Brown highlighted after the game, there were periods where the inexperience of the side showed through and Australia were able to capitalise on this twice more in the second half to take a 3-0 lead.

Australia's second goal came when they won a penalty corner in the 41st minute and it was the experienced Jodie Schulz who found the back of the net to make it 2-0. Following this, England settled again and continued to push forward looking for their first goal, but Australia were solid in their defence and looked dangerous on the attack. Their third goal came from open play and this time it was Georgia Nanscawen who found a way past Mackay from open play in the 58th minute.

The three goal cushion put the game beyond England, however they did not give up and with only two minutes left on the clock their hard work was rewarded when they won a penalty corner.

London 2012 Olympic duo Nicola White and Laura Unsworth showed their experience and combined well; Unsworth's strike found White who got her stick down low to deflect the ball into the roof of the net to make it 3-1.

Despite losing all three of their pool matches at the Investec Challenge, team leader Karen Brown has been really pleased with the team's performance, "We knew coming into this tournament that the other teams were fielding more experienced sides and that this would be a big step up for the majority of the squad. However, I think that the skill and technique of these younger players has matched the other teams, it has just been the physical conditioning that has let us down and I am not worried about that as I know it will come with more time. We are looking forward to playing two more games at the weekend and continuing to build on what we have achieved so far."

England now have a rest day before their semi-final on Saturday which takes place at 13:00 (GMT); they will play the team that finish top of the table.

Caps & goals updated on the attached sheet
Name (Club)
Susie Gilbert (co-capt) (Reading)
Sarah Haycroft (Surbiton)
Kirsty Mackay (GK) (Bowdon)
Laura Unsworth (co-capt) (Loughborough Students)
Ellie Watton (Beeston)
Hollie Webb (Beeston)
Giselle Ansley (Loughborough Students)
Jo Hunter (Leicester)
Jo Leigh (Clifton)
Sam Quek (Reading)
Susannah Townsend (Canterbury)
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