THE Hockeyroos have qualified for a fourth consecutive Commonwealth Games gold medal match after Grace Stewart’s brilliant volley clinched a 1-nil win over India, in their semi-final at Gold Coast Hockey Centre on Thursday night.
Stewart, from Gerringong, scored the game’s only goal in the 37th minute, powerfully converting Savannah Fitzpatrick’s raised backhand pass into the shooting circle.
Australia had dominated the chances on goal up until that point, earning their reward, although they had to weather late pressure from India in the last period.
The fifth-ranked Hockeyroos will now play fourth-ranked New Zealand in the decider at 12.45pm AEST on Saturday.
The performance also maintained Australia’s perfect defensive record, having yet to concede a goal throughout the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
The first half offered up few chances with both sides feeling each other out with the lure of a spot in the gold medal match.
Hockeyroos keeper Rachael Lynch was tested in the second minute through Vandana Katariya and India captain Rani.
Australia launched their own raid with India keeper Savita denying Eddie Bone with a slider from a fifth minute penalty corner.
Gabi Nance went on a good run just inside the shooting circle to set up a chance for Stewart in the final minute of the first quarter, but she miscued her shot.
The scoring opportunities dried up in the second period, with Jane Claxton’s reverse stick shot after Stephanie Kershaw’s steal proving the best chance, with Rani equal to it.
Hundred-gamer Hurtz went on a marauding baseline run in the 36th miunte which almost set up Fitzpatrick.
Barely a minute later, it was Fitzpatrick who turned provider with a clever pass finding Stewart who lashed it beyond Savita.
Australia navigated a series of Indian penalty corners in the final period, with runner Bone thwarting two attempts.
Lynch made a save crucial late in the game when Navneet Kaur produced an expert backhand trap at the back post from Monika’s diagonal pass, with the goalkeeper swooping on the danger.
Rani also shot wide on the turn in the dying moments as Australia held on to secure their spot in the gold medal match.