Unsworth seeking revenge for England in Commonwealth hockey semi-finals

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Englands Laura Unsworth (L) hits the ball during the Womens hockey match between England and India on day five of the Commonwealth Games at the University of Birmingham Hockey and Squash Centre in Birmingham, central England, on August 2, 2022. (Photo by GLYN KIRK / AFP) (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
Englands Laura Unsworth (L) hits the ball during the Womens hockey match between England and India on day five of the Commonwealth Games at the University of Birmingham Hockey and Squash Centre in Birmingham, central England, on August 2, 2022. (Photo by GLYN KIRK / AFP) (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

By Tom Harle in Birmingham

Sutton Coldfield’s Laura Unsworth and the England women’s hockey team will have revenge on their mind in the semi-finals at the Commonwealth Games.

England impressed in beating home nations rivals Wales 5-0 in their final group game, meaning they end Pool A top of the pile with four wins from four.

That tees up a semi-final clash with New Zealand, who dealt a grievous blow to England’s hopes with a 3-1 victory when they met at last month’s World Cup.

Asked whether she hopes to get the Black Sticks back, Unsworth said: “I think so.

“I think we were probably a little bit disappointed in our World Cup performance but that probably wasn’t a 3-1 game.

“We have gone up a level from that though. We're excited to play them to see how far we've progressed this summer.

“I think it'd be a good battle, a semi-final, everyone's going to come out and play. There are medals at stake now, so this is crunch time.”

Wales started the game brightly with Amy Burton spooning a gilt-edged chance over the bar from point blank when played in by Hannah Cozens.

Wales put their bodies on the line as Beth Bingham took a blow to the face when trying to clear an Izzy Petter shot off the goal line.

A penalty corner was awarded that was converted by Grace Balsdon, who added two further drag-flicks in the second half to take her tally for the tournament to six.

Hannah Martin also struck from open play as her powerful shot crept past Roseanne Thomas and Giselle Ansley thumped a corner through Thomas’s legs for five.

Unsworth said: “When you play the Home Nations there's always an added bit of rivalry.

“It's probably about riding out the first quarter and then we knew if we just stuck to our game plan, then actually, the goals would come.

“I think we did well. In the second, third and fourth quarter, but probably the first quarter, it probably took us 15 minutes to get into the game a little bit and just to settle.”

Unsworth has been involved in three previous Commonwealth Games and this is the first time England have emerged with maximum points from the group stage.

She said: “It’s job one done but we can still probably up it a few gears. We’re in really good shape.”

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