By Anand Philar
New Delhi, Oct 13 (IANS) Australia survived a strong challenge from New Zealand to win the women's hockey gold medal with an aggregate 6-4 victory via tie-breaker at the Commonwealth Games here Wednesday.
Earlier, England overcame South Africa 2-1 in the playoff for the bronze which they won the second time in four attempts. They were silver medalists in 1998 and 2002 and took the bronze in 2006.
The teams were tied 2-2 at the end of regulation period followed by 15 minutes of extra-time. In the tie-breaker, the Aussies converted four of their five attempts while the Kiwis were successful with only two.
It turned out to be a battle of goalkeepers as Rachael Lynch (Australia) and Beth Jurgeleit (New Zealand) were kept busy through the 70 minutes. Lynch came out on top when she blocked an attempt in the tie-breaker and that save proved crucial.
Ashleigh Nelson, Megan Rivers, Casey Eastham and Jessica Arrold converted for Australia while the Kiwis fared poorly as Katie Glynn's weak attempt was easily stopped by Lynch and Krystal Forgesson pushed wide.
During the regulation period, the Kiwis did well to bounce back after twice being in arrears in a game between two well-matched teams. All the goals came from penalty corners.
Jessica Arrold (9th) and Ashleigh Nelson (59th) found the board from rebounds as did Samantha Harrison (48th) and Clarissa Eshuis (70th).
It was Australia's third gold medal in the competition following their successes in 1998 and 2006 while India took the honours in 2002.
The Aussies could have wrapped up the match in regulation time, but failed to cash in on the many chances that came their way. Also, with Jurgeleit in top form, their scoring was severely restricted.
At the other end, the Kiwis were more fluent in their moves, but failed to get it right inside the striking zone where the forwards seemed to lack in power to complete the job.
In the event, New Zealand came off second best though they were not found wanting in character and fighting spirit.
The final positions:
1. Australia; 2. New Zealand; 3. England; 4. South Africa; 5. India; 6. Canada; 7. Scotland; 8. Wales; 9. Trinidad and Tobago; 10. Malaysia.