Maddie Hinch stars as England claim Commonwealth gold

Maddie Hinch stars as England claim Commonwealth gold

Sussex star Maddie Hinch was happy to be a spectator as long as England outclassed Australia to win their first-ever Commonwealth hockey gold.

It was a masterful performance gilded by first-half strikes from Holly Hunt and Tess Howard that secured 2-1 victory.

Before this golden afternoon England stood on the podium in all six Commonwealth tournaments but never on top step.

Hinch said: “I knew it could be a game of moments. I had a couple of things to do and they can be harder, those games. I’m happy to stand there and do absolutely nothing as long as we win."

This summer, Team England, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, comprises of over 400 athletes, all vying for medal success.

Neither side imposed themselves in a nervy first quarter where Australia flashed the ball across goal and England failed to capitalise on a string of penalty corners.

Flora Peel threatened with early raids into enemy territory and she burst down the right to feed Hunt, who trapped the ball perfectly and cracked her shot past Aleisha Power in goal.

England doubled the lead four minutes later with Peel again playing provider for Howard to deftly deflect into the roof of the net.

The women will have been wary of the two-goal lead that their male counterparts let slip in their own semi-final against Australia.

But there was no visible sign of stress in the England ranks and they sought to build on the advantage with Anna Toman’s penalty corner slap smacking the inside of the right-hand post.

Maddie Hinch, a spectator for the first 45 minutes, was first called into action seconds into the fourth quarter when she kick-saved Jane Claxton’s close-range snapshot.

White-line fever began to creep in but as always Hinch had the coolest head in the postcode, saving first at the near post and then smothering a well-worked Australian penalty corner.

Just like eight years ago Australia struck in the last minute as Rosie Malone swept home the loose ball from a corner, just the second goal England conceded in the entire tournament, but is far too little, too late.

Hinch said: “This is right up there in my career, because of this stage and being at home. Off the back of so many low moments along the way, I’ve come here and lived the fairytale.'

“I had so many goosebumps about the idea of doing this but you know the challenges that lie ahead. Defensively, we were outstanding all tournament and I think that set the tone.”

Hinch has had her fair share of struggles in recent years that made victory on home soil all the sweeter.

She said: “Sport is a rollercoaster ride. This is an unbelievable high, there’ll be many more highs and lows.

“You can’t take these occasions lightly, I’m so glad we stayed in the moment, didn’t get carried away and were able to bring these dreams to life.

“I don’t think the reality of what we’ve done will set in until we go home, watch it back and see our friends and families. I’m delighted.”

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