The Japanese women finished third, and India fourth, in the invitational tournament that featured four Rio-bound teams. New Zealand claimed the overall crown ahead of the Australian hosts.
Scheduled two months ahead of the start of the Olympic hockey tournament, the Darwin 4 Nations invitational tournament last week was an ideal preparation event for four women’s teams all gearing up for the Games: Australia, currently ranked 3rd in the world, New Zealand (4th), Japan (10th) and India (13th).
With a narrow win in the final day’s bronze medal match, Japan came out ahead of India in the final standings, but both Asian representatives performed credibly throughout the tournament, showing much promise and challenging their much higher ranked opponents to intense matches.
The third place match between Japan and India had remained an even battle for a long time, with neither team able to get on the scoreboard until the third quarter. It was Vandana Katariya who found the net first, putting India ahead, but Japan replied in kind in under a minute through Motomi Kawamura. Minami Shimizu piled on a second goal a few minutes later to seal victory for Japan.
In the pool stage, India had faced New Zealand in their opening encounter. Having conceded one goal early, the Indian ladies held the Blacksticks within reach until the fourth quarter, when their opponents leaped out of reach with three goals scored in under six minutes. Anuradha Thokchom netted a consolation goal late in the match, but India could not avoid the 1-4 opening loss.
After a 1-1 draw with Japan in their second clash, India took on Australia in their final round robin match. Having answered an early Australia goal within minutes through Lilima Minz, India kept the match open until deep in the fourth quarter, when Australia claimed the win with an Emily Smith goal.
Japan had started off their campaign against the Australian hosts. The Hockeyroos asserted their claim to victory with two first quarter goals, and despite a good performance from the Sakura, they could not make up for the disadvantage, conceding a 1-3 defeat to Australia.
After drawing with India in the all-Asian group stage clash, Japan, like India, showed themselves much improved on Day 3. In a fiercely disputed match, the two teams were equal opponents until New Zealand pulled ahead with a brace of goals around the break. Japan kept fighting until the end of the match however, and was able to pull one back through a Maki Sakaguchi penalty corner late in the game, but eventually, time ran out on the Cherry Blossoms.
4 Nations Invitational Darwin 2016 – Results
Tuesday, 31 May 2016
New Zealand – India 4-1 (1-0)
Australia – Japan 3-1 (2-1)
Wednesday, 1 June 2016
India – Japan 1-1 (1-1)
Australia – New Zealand 2-1 (0-1)
Friday, 3 June 2016
Japan – New Zealand 1-2 (0-1)
Australia – India 2-1 (1-1)
Saturday, 4 June 2016
Bronze Medal: Japan – India 2-1 (0-0)
Gold Medal: Australia – New Zealand 0-2 (0-2)
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