Canterbury’s Grace Balsdon and the England women’s hockey team will have revenge on their mind in the semi-finals at the Commonwealth Games.
England beat home nations rivals Wales 5-0 in their final group game today, meaning they end Pool A top of the pile with four wins from four.
That tees up a semi-final clash with New Zealand - who dealt a grievous blow to England’s hopes with a 3-1 victory when they met at last month’s World Cup - tomorrow.
Asked whether she hopes to get revenge on New Zealand, veteran Laura Unsworth said: “I think so.
“I think we were probably a little bit disappointed in our World Cup performance but that probably wasn’t a 3-1 game.
“We have gone up a level from that, though. We're excited to play them to see how far we've progressed this summer.
“I think it'd be a really good battle,a semi-final, everyone's going to come out and play. There's medals at stake now so this is crunch time.”
In Birmingham, Wales started the game brightly with Amy Burton spooning a gilt-edged chance over the bar from point blank when played in by Hannah Cozens.
Wales put their bodies on the line as Beth Bingham took a blow to the face when trying to clear an Izzy Petter shot off the goalline.
A penalty corner was awarded that was converted by 29-year-old Balsdon, who added two further drag-flicks in the second half to take her tally for the tournament to six having scored an earlier hat-trick in a big 12-0 win over Ghana.
Hannah Martin also struck from open play as her powerful shot crept past Roseanne Thomas and Ansley thumped a corner through Thomas’s legs for five.
Unsworth said: “When you play the Home Nations, there's always an added bit of rivalry.
“It's probably about riding out the first quarter and then we knew if we just stuck to our game plan, then actually, the goals would come.
“I think we did really well. In the second, third and fourth quarter, but probably the first quarter, it probably took us 15 minutes to get into the game a little bit and just to settle.”
Unsworth has been involved in three previous Commonwealth Games and this is the first time England have emerged with maximum points from the group stage.
She said: “It’s job one done but we can still probably up it a few gears.
“We’re in really good shape.”
Balsdon now plays for Hampstead & Westminster.
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