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Kenny strikes century of goals for Australia

11 August 2016

HOCKEY: Australia’s women’s hockey team got their Rio campaign up and running with an emphatic 6-1 win over India on day five of the Games.

Defender Jodie Kenny’s 100th goal for her country was the icing on the cake in what was a clinical and assured performance from the world number three side.

A brace of penalty corners inside the first nine minutes from Kathryn Slattery and Georgie Morgan put Australia in the driving seat and they demonstrated their attacking prowess in the third quarter when Jane Claxton, Georgie Parker and Kenny scored in quick succession.

Kenny converted from the penalty spot for 5-0 after her penalty corner shot hit an Indian foot in front of goal and, following the three-quarter time break, she flicked home her 100th international goal.  

India bagged a late consolation with just eight seconds remaining on the clock.

Australian coach Adam Commens later described Kenny as “one of the best in the world.”

“She’s our number one drag flicker and has been for the last six years that I’ve been involved,” said Commens.

“There have been other moments that there have been some cameos but you don’t score 100 goals without being world class. She’s one of the best in the world.”

Australia have declared their intention to play with a quick aggressive style in Rio and it was in evidence here against India.

In search of their first points of the competition, Australia began strongly. Jane Claxton showed the Aussie intent with a shot inside the first minute and it didn’t take long for them to open their account.

In the fifth minute, Georgie Morgan’s penalty corner flick was deflected onto the goalkeeper’s pads by Madonna Blyth, who then dragged the loose ball sideways to Kathryn Slattery. The West Australian lifted the ball beyond the defender on the goal line for 1-0 and her second goal of the tournament.

Australia’s defence remained intact through two Indian penalty corners before Morgan doubled the advantage with a penalty corner drag flick, which slipped under goalkeeper Savita for 2-0.

Speed and aggression were at the core of the Australian performance as they won turnover ball time and time again.

India had the odd chance, too. Anuradha Thokchom blazed over the top after a defensive lapse but the game belonged to Australia.

Jodie Kenny fired wide from a penalty corner early in the third period and Emily Smith failed to connect at the back post before the girls in green and gold extended their advantage.

Good work from Mariah Williams and Gabi Nance saw the ball land at the feet of Claxton, who slapped high into the net from the middle of the circle in the 35th minute for 3-0.

Only 55 seconds later it was 4-0 as Georgie Parker’s pass across the face of goal was turned in by the stick of the unfortunate Indian defender, Vandana Katariya.

Queenslander Kenny struck her 99th goal for Australia from the penalty spot in the 43rd minute after her penalty corner hit the foot of the Indian captain, Sushila Pukhrambam, on the goal line. And she reached triple figures three minutes later from a penalty corner.

In the dying seconds, India netted a late consolation goal with a cool aerial finish, which stood despite an appeal to the video umpire from Australia who argued the original pass was played with the back of the stick.

“One of the things I said before we came here was I want to show the Aussie public how we can play and the brand of hockey we can play,” said Commens.

“Four years ago, we ground out some results and we played a style of hockey that was designed to try and get points. We can play much better than that.

“We’re one of the best teams in the world and I think we saw today how we move it, the speed that we play with through the midfield. We had our penalty corners working.

“Jodie Kenny and Georgie Morgan are two of the best drag flickers in the world. There’s not many girls that flick it harder than them.”

For Kenny, who had her husband Shane, parents and siblings in the stands, there was delight at reaching an incredible milestone of 100 goals in 183 matches.

“I’m really happy to hit that hundgy,” said Kenny.

“I wasn’t thinking about it but I’m really happy to put away a century. It’s been a really wonderful journey and I’ve loved every opportunity I’ve got to put on the bodysuit. Today was just such a great one to be a part of.”

Australia’s women will be looking to go back-to-back on Thursday night (7:00am AEST, Friday) when they face London 2012 Olympic Games silver medallists, Argentina, in their quest for a quarter final spot.

Lawrence West

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