GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 12: Grace Stewart of Australia celebrates scoring her teams first goal of the game during Women's Semifinal hockey match between Australia and India on day eight of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast Hockey Centre on April 12, 2018 on the Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 12: Grace Stewart of Australia celebrates scoring her teams first goal of the game during Women's Semifinal hockey match between Australia and India on day eight of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast Hockey Centre on April 12, 2018 on the Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Bring on the Kiwis! Hockeyroos ready to get physical

AUSTRALIA'S Hockeyroos are bracing themselves for a fierce physical showdown against New Zealand in Saturday's Games gold medal match.

The duo staged an enthralling war of attrition in a pool match which finished 0-0, a scoreline which belied the entertainment of a bruising contest.

"Every time we play them it is very physical and challenging,'' key defender Jodie Kenny said last week.

"There is a lot of body contact in tackles. It is tough but quite enjoyable as well. Us Aussies put up a good front with the body contact as well.''

Grace Stewart celebrates scoring against India in the semi final (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Grace Stewart celebrates scoring against India in the semi final (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

The Hockeyroos are yet to concede a goal in five games, with goalkeeper Rachael Lynch in exceptional form.

"Personally I've felt really calm at this tournament," said Lynch, who is playing at her third Commonwealth Games.

"I don't know if that's the experience of being here before. I take a lot of confidence out of the girls and how they play.

"You've probably seen all over the pitch the girls have had some really solid performances but definitely with the defence, my job is made easy when I've got a great around me who are working so hard and are so brave.

"I don't focus on a clean sheet, it's not a goal for me, I'm grateful that's where we are at for the tournament.

"My personal focus is to stop the ball going in the goal. If I can do my job, hopefully the girls down the other end will take care of the rest."

Australia have won four hockey golds in the women's Commonwealth Games and a victory today would be a significant step for a young team developing nicely for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Jodie Kenny of Australia goes up against Olivia Merry of New Zealand.
Jodie Kenny of Australia goes up against Olivia Merry of New Zealand.

Stewart, who turns 21 later this month, lashed in Savannah Fitzpatrick's backhand cross for the decisive goal, earning the Hockeyroos a spot in the 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medal match.

"It was very exciting," Stewart said.

"I still don't believe that it went in. Those ones you often miss.

"It was very nice. I hit it sweetly off the stick.

"It was a relief to put it in the back of the net."

The youngster, who was part of Australia's 2016 Rio Olympics team as a teenager, said she was relishing the home games.

"It's been amazing especially at home with family and friends in the stands," she said.

"It's been something pretty special. I'm looking forward to tomorrow night, getting out there and hopefully doing everyone proud."

Australia will play New Zealand in Saturday's final from 12.45pm AEST.



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