There have been questions raised recently about the relevance of the Commonwealth Games. From witnessing the 2018 games on the Gold Coast in April, I can ensure everyone that the games have meaning.
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Australia vs New Zealand
2018 Commonwealth Games Men's Hockey, April 11
|Gold Coast Hockey Centre|
The Australian Kookaburras will face their toughest challenge yet at the Commonwealth Games when they face New Zealand in their final group game. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 4:30pm (AEST).
The Kookaburras have been in fine form on the Gold Coast, but victories over South Africa, Scotland and Canada don’t prove anything more than that they are beating lower-ranked opposition.
Playing New Zealand is a potential gold medal match preview, with the sides right at the top of the tournament.
In a lot of ways, being in the same group is positive for the two sides. It means there is no chance they can face off in the semi-finals, meaning the best final the tournament could produce is likely.
While England and India are going well in Group B, it’s unclear just how they would go tasked with playing the Kookaburras or Black Sticks.
The teams will set out to avoid injury and work on combinations and formats ahead of the knockout stages in this one. Both sides are through to the second round regardless of the result and with no clear preference on playing either India or England, there is almost nothing on the line.
As mentioned, Australia have recorded three victories, while the Kiwis have done the same, both teams sitting with a +13 goal difference.
Stunningly, the Aussies have conceded just the single goal in the tournament – that’s in 180 minutes of play – in a 6-1 rout of Scotland in their second game, while they beat Canada and South Africa 4-0.
Even with New Zealand scoring 17 goals for the tournament, if that defence holds, it’s unlikely they are going to find a way through, as was the problem when they played in the 2017 Oceania Championship, being swept by the Kookaburras.
This could be an end-to-end game, with both teams looking to push the pace and find scoring opportunities. Defences are better than what they have faced though and it’ll come down to which team executes better.
Australia have been strong, they should win this one.
Australia 2 – New Zealand 1.
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