In an eventful contest that contained all the ingredients of a title fight, Australia retained the gold, its third in the Commonwealth Games women's hockey competition on Wednesday.

The 2-2 result at the end of regulation time and the 4-2 score line in the tie-breaker gave Australia a 6-4 aggregate against New Zealand.

There was every indication of a new script emerging in the history of women's hockey when the Kiwis fought the issue tooth and nail. That they ended the regulation time with an equaliser forty seconds before the hooter underlines the fortitude demonstrated.

It was an even contest with neither side giving up at anytime. The moves flowed from both sides. The Aussies went into the lead midway through from a penalty corner by Jessica Nicole and then held it on till half-time.

The Kiwis came on level when Samantha Harrisson made the best of a penalty corner sequence. Thereafter, for a spell the Kiwis held the advantage although it was Ashleigh Nelson who put the Aussies ahead.

The Kiwis summoned all the resources at their command, and forced a penalty corner in the final minute. Clarissa Eshius converted with the clock showing forty seconds and push the match into extra-time, which stretched into tie-breaker, in which the Aussies held sway.

Barring skipper Madonna Blyth the rest were successful. The Kiwis had a bad start with Kate Glynn pushing out the first and Krystal Forgession following suit. Although Anita Punt and Kayla Sharland converted, that was not sufficient to cover the gap. When Jessica Nicole flicked in the Aussie triumph became a reality.

The two earlier gold medals for the Aussies came in 1998 and 2006. For the Kiwis, the silver is the best finish so far, after the bronze in 1998.

England keeps bronze

England retained the bronze after successfully defending nine penalty corners and the extraordinary pressure imposed by Pietee Coetzee and her South Africans.

The solitary goal win — scored by Georgie Twigg in the 13th minute of the first half — came as a balm for the England players roasting under the hot morning sun.

If anyone deserves a pat on the back, it is England's goal-keeper Beth Storry. Throughout the contest she had to contend with the searching and searing moves initiated by the South Africans headed by Pietee Coetzee.

For England the frontline was led well by the energetic Kerry Williams. It is a pity that she did not figure in the list of scorers.

The results: Final: Australia 2 (Jessica Nicole, Ashleigh Nelson) beat New Zealand 2 (Samantha Harrisson, Clarissa Eshius). Tie breaker: Australia 4 (Ashleigh Nelson, Megan Rivers, Cassey Eastham, Jessica Nicole); New Zealand 2 (Anita Punt, Kayla Sharland). Total 6-4.

For third place: England 1 (Georgie Twigg) beat South Africa 0; HT 1-0.

Final placings: 1.Australia, 2. New Zealand, 3. England, 4. South Africa, 5. India, 6. Canada, 7. Scotland, 8. Wales, 9. Trinidad and Tobago, 10. Malaysia.

Thursday's matches: (3-4) England v New Zealand (9 a.m.); Final: India v Australia (11-30 a.m.)

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