Results follow script
25 Apr 2006 20:19
Visit the Samsung Hockey World Cup Qualifier website
Results followed the script on the opening day of the Samsung Hockey World Cup Qualifier with the favoured teams all emerging from the first round of matches unscathed in Rome.
With five places available at the women’s Samsung Hockey World Cup in Madrid in September/October, the opening round was important for all teams to establish themselves in the tournament.
The top three ranked teams in Pool A - China, England and Japan - all recorded easy wins and did not concede a goal between them.
Neither China nor England looked seriously threatened throughout their respective contests, with China overcoming a determined Scotland and England outclassing Ukraine in the first two matches of the day.
Japan kept pace late in the day and matched the performances posted earlier with a four-goal second half more than enough to end the French challenge.
The trio look the likely teams to fight out the top two spots in the pool, and with it a qualifying spot at the World Cup, with four preliminary rounds remaining until the classification matches.
Pool B matches were a lot closer, with USA snatching a last-minute goal to share the points with Ireland and New Zealand forced to recover from a one-goal deficit to avoid a shock loss to Azerbaijan.
Ireland looked headed for a crucial win before Kelly Doton scored with less than a minute to secure what might turn out to be a vital point in at the end of the pool phase for the USA.
New Zealand, the world number six, was never comfortable against a team ranked 13 places below them on the rankings, but they kept their composure despite conceding a first half goal to score the winner from Charlotte Harrison’s neat reverse stick finish.
The only match in the pool that wasn’t in question until the final minute was the last match, with Korea dispatching Italy to take top spot in Pool B. The Koreans were too polished for the home team and after a hat trick of first half goals, they cruised to victory.
In tomorrow’s matches, China and England meet in a match likely to provide further definition to Pool A, while Japan clash with Ukraine and France face Scotland in a defining match for both teams.