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FIH Pro League: Great Britain women beat New Zealand

PUBLISHED: 09:39 08 February 2020 | UPDATED: 09:39 08 February 2020

Great Britain's women celebrate a goal against New Zealand (pic GB Hockey)

Great Britain's women celebrate a goal against New Zealand (pic GB Hockey)

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Great Britain’s women eased to their first victory in the 2020 FIH Hockey Pro League with a dominant victory over New Zealand in Auckland.

Shona McCallin provided the moment of the day with a beautifully swept finish in the final quarter after a neat Tess Howard deflection and assured stroke from Charlotte Watson gave GB a 2-0 lead at half-time, in a game where Lily Owsley made her 150th combined international appearance.

That came after the men bagged their second point of the tournament with a 1-1 tie against the Black Sticks.

Chris Griffiths' late equaliser saw the team draw for a second successive weekend but they couldn't grab the bonus point in the shootout.

Playing in their changed strip of white shirt & blue shorts, GB's men started on the front foot as Hampstead & Westminster's Rupert Shipperley saw an effort saved in the first minute before clubmate Will Calnan was thwarted by Joyce shortly after.

The hosts had their chances too, with George Pinner standing tall to save from point blank range early in the first quarter, while Mark Gleghorne had two corners saved.

The second quarter was more circumspect, with Tom Sorsby seeing one effort blocked before Liam Ansell hit the post in the dying moments of the half.

Sorsby then had another effort saved early in the third quarter while at the other end Pinner was called into action again from close range.

There was nothing he could do to prevent the Black Sticks from taking the lead in the 43rd minute though as Jenness powered a shot into the top corner.

Great Britain pressed hard to find the equaliser in the final quarter and it eventually came as Griffiths reacted well to turn a deflected effort past Joyce.

The East Grinstead forward was unlucky not to add a second a minute later as Joyce pulled off a fine reaction save as GB ended the game on top but could not find the winner, with Jackson also thwarted.

Calnan got Great Britain off to the perfect start in the shootout but Joyce was on hand to ensure it was the hosts who claimed the bonus point.

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Griffiths said: "It's another point in the bag but there were slight frustations at times throughout the game. We needed to possibly take more care of the ball in the final third but otherwise I thought it was a good performance.

"We're a bit down because of the outcome as we felt like we dominated the game in patches. But I think that shows where we are as a group - we want to go out and win games and we don't want to disappoint ourselves. I think that can only be a good thing."

Head coach Danny Kerry added: "We're disappointed we didn't get the win. We were soft on the ball in the important times and moments. I can't take away from the lads they went for it and credit to them for coming back from 1-0 down. But even before then we had plenty of opportunities to win the game.

The two will meet again tomorrow at 2am GMT live on BT Sport.

New Zealand's women came closest to opening the scoring as they won three corners in quick succession halfway through the first quarter, with McCallin pulling off a brilliant save on the line.

Two minutes later Howard gave Great Britain the lead as she found herself in the perfect spot to lift a dangerous cross from Hampsetad & Westminster's Sarah Robertson over Georgia Barnett.

GB then won a corner in the 20th minute but Anna Toman's slap was saved before Watson doubled the lead a minute later with a stroke after Jo Hunter was barged as she wound up to take a shot.

Toman saw another corner blocked early in the third quarter before the hosts started applying plenty of pressure in search of a goal to draw themselves back into the game, winning several corners of their own.

But there was no way past Sabbie Heesh or her defenders, with Leah Wilkinson and Tess Howard valiantly throwing themselves into the path of the ball.

McCallin then provided the moment of the day as she diving to turn Howard's brilliant pass into the corner for her first ever GB goal and her first international strike in more than two years.

Owsley said: "There's a lot of relief - we're glad to start the ball rolling and it was a great game. After last weekend's disappointment we needed for that and hopefully we'll come out tomorrow and get even more points from this trip.

"I thought last weekend we put in good performances but we didn't come away with the wins. When you're playing well you have to grind out good performances and today we knew we had to turn the screw and we did it.

"150 - I don't know where the time has gone. It's been a journey and to achieve this is very special and I'm so proud. I couldn't think of a better group to get it with."

The two teams play again at 4:30am GMT tomorrow morning.


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