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Page last updated at 10:33 GMT, Monday, 11 October 2010 11:33 UK

Delhi 2010: England lose to Australia in hockey semis

England v Australia women's hockey semi-final

Australia deny England final spot

Venue: Delhi, India Dates: 3-14 October 2010 Coverage: Comprehensive live coverage across BBC TV, radio, online, BBC Red Button, mobile and BBC iPlayer services. Find full coverage details here. And a full schedule of events here.

Australia produced an excellent defensive display to win 1-0 and deny England's women's hockey team a place in the Commonwealth Games final.

In 40-degree heat in Delhi, England were energetic in the first half, forcing two penalty corners late on.

But they failed to convert those and Madonna Blyth punished them with a neat deflection when Australia won their first short corner in the second half.

And despite plenty of late attacks, England could not find an equaliser.

Many of the England players were inconsolable at the end of the match and captain Kate Walsh said her team-mates had been "hurt" by the defeat.

We need to understand that if teams don't want to play hockey against us then we need to learn to break them down

England head coach Danny Kerry

"It's just horrible knowing that we were so close again to getting to a final," said tearful Walsh, 30, who won Commonwealth silver in Manchester in 2002, bronze in Melbourne four years ago and bronze in last month's World Cup.

"We were all over them - we definitely had the lion's share of possession, we had the most penetration, they sat off. We've been in this position many times and that's why it hurts so much now - we want to be on the top of that podium.

"It's going to hurt, whatever we get. Hopefully now we'll get a bronze, but it's going to hurt because we wanted to come here and get that gold."

New Zealand beat South Africa 1-0 in the second semi-final to set up a final against the Hockeyroos on Wednesday, with South Africa meeting England in the bronze medal match.

New Zealand celebrate victory over South Africa
New Zealand battled to a narrow win over South Africa

Aside from a flat period soon after the Australia goal, England dominated much of the play at Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium but were never able to turn territorial advantage into goals.

The first penalty corner came three-and-a-half minutes from the end of the first period after a strong run by Ashleigh Ball was stopped illegally.

Crista Cullen was set up from the resulting corner but Australia could only scramble it away by conceding a second.

This time, goalkeeper Rachael Lynch was quick to block the shot after Kate Walsh and Cullen combined well.

After cooling down in ice vests at half-time, a luxury not available to England's players, Australia scored the game's only goal at the start of the second period.

It was captain Blyth who got the decisive touch to a shot from the edge of the area, diverting the ball beyond the reach of Beth Storry in the England goal.

England successfully withstood a period of Australian pressure but were the team apparently wilting in the heat - until galvanising themselves for a real effort over the closing 10 minutes.

The best opening came when Laura Unsworth drilled a searching low cross in from the right which the Australian defence failed to deal with. Alex Danson attempted a difficult shot on the turn, with an unmarked Hannah Macleod in a much better position to strike.

The chance had gone and England looked crestfallen when the final whistle went.

England head coach Danny Kerry said: "It's very difficult to score with 19 bodies in the circle. Australia had about four circle penetrations and didn't really threaten but unfortunately a weak penalty corner was deflected past Beth in goal.

"We need to understand that if teams don't want to play hockey against us then we need to learn to break them down. It happened in the World Cup and it happened here."

And Kerry questioned why organisers had scheduled such an important match at the hottest time of day.

"You've got a women's semi-final in the middle of the day and a seventh/eighth play-off match in the evening," he added.

"If someone could explain that to me... It's not a great advert for hockey. They've done the sport a disservice."

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see also
Commonwealth Games photos
11 Oct 10 |  Commonwealth Games
England's hockey women into semis
09 Oct 10 |  Commonwealth Games

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