There was no glorious repeat of last Saturday's epic England victory in the rugby just a few hundred yards down the road from the Telstra Stadium in Sydney's Olympic Park yesterday as England opened their campaign in the Women's Champions Trophy against the host nation.
Instead it was a disastrous performance by England, slated after the game by their Australian coach, Tricia Heberle. "To say it was less than ideal would be a gross understatement. Worst performance since June 2001. There are no excuses. Players must take responsibility. There was no urgency, passion or respect for the opposition."
England allowed the Australians to close them down and get behind their defence, forcing them into a string of casual errors. It was not until the 48th minute, by which time they were trailing by two goals, that England had a shot. Collecting a through ball from Lucilla Wright, Jane Smith broke clear but hit her shot into the keepers' pads.
By now completely in command, Australia finished the scoring with three goals inside four minutes to complete England's misery. Australia's captain, Katrina Powell, scorer of two of the goals, admitted afterwards: "Yes, we did have niggle to settle."
Across the Tasman Sea, the Great Britain men's team, with goals from Martin Jones and Barry Middleton, drew 2-2 with New Zealand in Tauranga in the Fourth Test to keep alive their hopes of sharing the five-Test series. The Kiwis go into today's final Test with a 2-1 series lead.
Australia: R Imison; A Skirving, L Dobson; K Smith, M Twitt, N Smith; S Taylor, P Gallagher, K Powell (capt), K Allen, S Faulkner. Substitutes: M Rivers, E Halliday, W Alcorn, C Bakurski, B Netzler.
England: H Rose; M Nicholson, K Walsh (capt), F Houslop; M Clewlow; J Smith, L Wright, R Walker; A Bennett, P Miller, L King. Substitutes: J Bimson, D Marston-Smith, S Blanks, J Ellis, C Cullen.
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