Scoring heavens open
28 Apr 2006 20:19
© Wolfgang Sternberger
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Yesterday’s scoring drought was replaced by a flood of goals rattling the backboards as the top teams in Pool B exerted their authority on day four of the women’s Samsung Hockey World Cup Qualifier in Rome.
The scoring heavens opened during today’s matches, with yesterday’s struggles in front of the net replaced by a procession of 20 goals with the trio of leading teams swamping the defences of their opponents.
England were the day’s big winners on the scoreboard and the points table, with a 10-goal thrashing of France not only giving them a third straight win but also elevating them above Japan on the Pool A points table on goal difference.
The result of the match was never in doubt, with England far too good in every aspect.
The second half became a scoring torrent, as England notched six goals, including four in eight minutes towards the end of the match.
Helen Grant and Lucilla Wright scored doubles as England ran rampant to boost their goal difference and edge them ahead of Japan, the other unbeaten team in the pool.
Japan were equally impressive in their disposal of Scotland, with another complete performance also giving them a third straight win and a maximum nine points in the tournament.
Kaori Chiba and Tomomi Komori continue to lead the Japanese strike line, with the pair scoring again today to move to the equal top spot on the goal scorers list.
Working against Japan is that their remaining two matches in the preliminary phase are against the top two seeds in the pool, China and England.
However a win against China on Sunday would send them to the Samsung Hockey World Cup in Madrid, but with their Asian opponents lurking just one win behind in third place in the pool, their remaining campaign will be significantly more challenging than the start.
In the final match on day four, China took the entire first half to overcome another spirited showing from Ukraine before eventually prevailing to keep in touch with both England and China with two round matches remaining.
England’s next match is against Scotland and given their current form, it’s unlikely their UK neighbours will be able to interrupt their march to Madrid. Like Japan, a victory on Sunday will to give England a berth at the World Cup.
It’s Pool B’s turn to show their wares tomorrow, with Korea against Azerbaijan, Italy playing USA and Ireland meeting New Zealand. Given the closeness of the teams, a tense and unpredictable day is likely with only two points separating the top five teams.