Hockey: King dives in to thwart New Zealand comeback

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The Independent Online

Leisa King was the heroine for Britain as she dived to clear a loose ball at a New Zealand penalty corner in the closing seconds of her team's opening game in the Women's Olympic Qualifier in Auckland yesterday.

Leisa King was the heroine for Britain as she dived to clear a loose ball at a New Zealand penalty corner in the closing seconds of her team's opening game in the Women's Olympic Qualifier in Auckland yesterday.

Britain hung on for a 2-2 draw after goals from Mel Clewlow and Helen Grant in the eighth and 10th minutes had silenced the home crowd. Indeed, but for easy misses by King and Rhona Simpson, Britain should have been four goals clear at the interval.

After the interval New Zealand rallied with two goals inside three minutes midway through the half. First Niniwa Roberts-Lang slammed the ball past Hilary Rose's pads and then Suzie Muirhead, the Kiwi captain, scored the equaliser.

"There are stronger words than disappointment to describe how I feel," Britain's coach, Tricia Heberle, said after the game. "Of course this is a disappointing result as we dropped our work rate in the second half."

With just five teams to qualify for Athens it is important that Britain can claim a semi-final place to avoid the pressure of two must-win cross-over games at the end of the tournament.

Ireland hung on for a 1-0 victory over the Ukraine, their first ever win against that country, thanks to a 21st-minute goal from Jenny Burke.

Women's Olympic Qualifier (Auckland) Day 1: Pool A: Ukraine 0 Ireland 1; New Zealand 2 Great Britain 2.

Pool B: Japan 6 Russia 1; Spain 1 Korea 0.

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