Chris Duncan targets New Zealand after Scotland see off South Africa in pool opener

Scotland face New Zealand tonight in Birmingham with a new game plan despite edging a physical and talented South African side 4-2 in their opening hockey Pool B game in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

By Nigel Duncan
Saturday, 30th July 2022, 11:36 am

Coach Chris Duncan believes there is nothing to lose against the Kiwi combine ranked eighth in the world against Scotland who are 10 places below them.

The Edinburgh-based playcaller was working on ways to earn a result against the side from Down Under only hours after Friday's victory which was achieved under real pressure and against a side who have just played in the World Cup.

Charlotte Watson gave Scotland an early lead before South Africa netted a double through Lisa-Marie Deetlefs, but skipper Sarah Robertson, Fiona Burnet and finally Jen Eadie counted for The Tartan Hearts.

Scotland women's hockey coach Chris Duncan is relishing to his first Commonwealth Games. Picture: Craig Watson

Eadie’s deflected counter came with eight minutes left to finally finish off the South Africans, but goalkeepers Nicola Cochrane and Amy Gibson were there when they were needed, making several telling stops during the game to deny the lightning quick Springbocks who must have relished the 24C heat and blazing sunshine at The University of Birmingham pitches.

Duncan, who is also director of hockey at The Edinburgh Academy, said: "South Africa were really tough and it was a shock to the system in the first quarter. It took our girls time to settle and we had a conversation at half-time to calm things down.

"That helped get us a foothold in the game and Fiona (Burnet) scoring in the first minute of the second-half settled us down. From then on we pressed the ball well and made some really good decisions."

He admitted that the clash was a target game for South Africa, ranked No 20 in the world, and the Scots as they are in a similar place in the world rankings.

Duncan admitted: "We had to grind out there and things did not exactly to plan, but I am proud to have come thorough that with a win as it has been a long build-up to get here.

To score four goals in a game is always going to give a side a good chance to win and so it proved and now for New Zealand.

The playcaller added: "We have nothing to lose against New Zealand. We won our first game, we are on top of our world and we now have loads of confidence.

"We have always said that our ranking was irrelevant to us and we enjoyed the experience today but if we are going to face big teams like New Zealand then we need to adapt.

"Our job is to ensure that the girls have recovered and that we have a clear game plan and they all understand it. It's a big game under the lights and we understand there will be a big Scottish contingent here. Now we have to believe."

In the other game, New Zealand thrashed Kenya, ranked No 37 in the world, 16-0.