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September 24, 2000
Australia stay on course for hockey double
Defending women's champions Australia continued their impressive march towards back-to-back Olympic titles with a 3-0 win over New Zealand on Sunday.
Denied several times by Kiwi goalkeeper Helen Clarke in the first half, Australia stepped up a gear after the break.
Nikki Hudson opened the scoring from a penalty corner in the 50th minute and grabbed her second two minutes later, before Katrina Powell latched onto a precise Claire Mitchell-Taverner deflection to complete the scoring in the 62nd minute.
Australian coach Ric Charlesworth praised his side's persistence after a frustrating first half.
''Remember the Pat Rafter story. That was our five-setter today,'' Charlesworth said in his after-match team talk. ''Sometimes you've got to be prepared to go the distance.''
With Hudson at her elusive best down the left side, Australia ran New Zealand off their legs in the second half. The speed and precision of their play sent an ominous warning to the challengers lining up for a shot at their crown.
Still among those contenders is Argentina, who kept their medal hopes alive with a 3-1 upset of the Netherlands.
Going into the ''super six'' stage with no points from the preliminary rounds, Argentina's desperation was obvious as they out-hustled this year's Champions Trophy winners.
Laying the foundations for the win were defenders Mercedes Margalot and Cecilia Rognoni, who proved impenetrable at the back.
Playing in her first major tournament after completing a 12-month ban for throwing the ball, Rognoni was superb.
The star in attack was 19-year-old Agustina Garcia, who found the net twice, her second a brilliant reverse stick strike from the edge of the circle which gave Dutch goalkeeper Daphne Touw no hope.
Netherlands coach Tom Van T'Hek was scathing in his assessment of his team.
''We have played this whole tournament without heart, without soul and without brains,'' he said. ''For the last six years we have put a lot of faith in these players, but some of them are unable to repay that faith.
''We have not played up to our level in any of our matches. We are anxious and not mentally prepared.''
In the third of the medal pool matches, Spain and China fought out a 0-0 draw. The Chinese created a number of excellent scoring opportunities, but were denied by resolute defence.
Huiping Yang had eight of China's 16 shots at goal, while Jiuyan Wang and Hui Cheng also proved dangerous.
''I was pleased with the way our girls played, but Spain are hard to break down,'' said China's manager Jianguo Hu. ''We had a chance to take the game with a corner in the last minute, but couldn't do it.''
The medal pool standings after Sunday's matches are: Australia 7 points, Spain 5, China 4, Netherlands 3, New Zealand 3, Argentina 3.
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