A Kaitlin Nobbs hat-trick has fired the Hockeyroos to a comfortable 8-0 win over Kenya in their first match of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
In Renee Taylor’s 100th appearance, five Hockeyroos finished on the score sheet in the one-sided contest.
Featuring 12 Commonwealth Games debutantes, the Hockeyroos proved far superior to their African opponents who were competing in women’s hockey at the Commonwealth Games for the first time.
Nobbs had a day to remember, captaining the team and almost doubling her career goal tally.
The midfielder scored the Hockeyroos’ first goal of the tournament in the third minute before Shanea Tonkin made it 2-0 a minute later courtesy of a sublime glancing deflection.
It was then 3-0 when Nobbs converted a penalty stroke, Steph Kershaw knocking in a fourth from an acute angle a minute before quarter time.
Karri Somerville was cruelly denied her first international goal when her drag flick ended in the back of the net only to be ruled out with the ball adjudged not to have left the attacking circle before she struck her shot.
The Birmingham crowd was urging the underdog Kenyans on every time they entered their forward half of the pitch, but the Hockeyroos defence that only conceded three goals at the recent World Cup remained resolute and largely untroubled.
Another penalty corner in the 25th minute saw Claire Colwill score her maiden Hockeyroos goal, the 18 year old’s well hit drag flick taking a wicked deflection on its way into the back of the net.
Tonkin showed her striker instinct with a clinical strike early in the second half to make it 6-0 as the Hockeyroos looked to ram home their dominance.
The Kenyans continued to defend gallantly but the Hockeyroos were in again when Grace Stewart got a telling touch from a Taylor drag flick.
Despite their dominance, the Hockeyroos would only strike once more at the death as Nobbs completed her hat-trick with another penalty stroke.
“We started well and had a lot of opportunities…we are still learning and weren’t worried about the score line,” said Nobbs.
“We were focussed on getting our process right and we have a lot to take out of that game into tomorrow.”
Head Coach Katrina Powell said there is plenty for her team to work and is expecting a much tougher assignment against South Africa tomorrow night.
“I think we maybe relaxed a little bit. You also have to give credit to Kenya as well,” said Powell.
“They obviously learnt a lot playing against New Zealand yesterday and it’s much tougher when teams sit back and don’t come at you.
“South Africa gave us a really difficult test at the World Cup. No doubt they will come out really strong tomorrow and expect to take points from it, so we better be on our game tomorrow.”
The Hockeyroos’ match against South Africa is at 9:00pm local time tomorrow (Monday 1 August 6:00am AEST).
Catch all the hockey from the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games on Seven and 7plus.
Hockeyroos 8 (Nobbs 3’/12’/60’, Tonkin 4’/32’, Kershaw 15’, Colwill 25’, Stewart 36’)
@ University of Birmingham Hockey and Squash Centre
Hockeyroos: 1.Claire Colwill, 2.Rosie Malone, 4.Amy Lawton, 6.Penny Squibb, 7.Aleisha Power (gk), 8.Georgia Wilson, 9.Shanea Tonkin, 10.Maddy Fitzpatrick, 12.Greta Hayes, 14.Steph Kershaw, 15.Kaitlin Nobbs (c), 18.Jane Claxton, 19.Jocelyn Bartram (gk), 20.Karri Somerville, 21.Renee Taylor, 24.Mariah Williams, 29.Rebecca Greiner, 30.Grace Stewart