Maddie Hinch believes defence key to England's hockey Commonwealth title charge

Maddie Hinch believes defence key to England's hockey Commonwealth title charge

England’s Olympic hockey hero Maddie Hinch believes her side must improve defensively if they are to successfully defend their Commonwealth Games gold medal in Birmingham.

Hinch saved all four penalties in the shootout at Rio 2016 as Team GB won gold against the Netherlands but believes this current England side must tighten up at the back if she is to add another medal to her collection.

England ran out 3-1 winners against India in their third pool match to leave them with three wins from three, but the Sussex star believes her team must still improve.

“We needed to be on it defensively and I think if we reflect, we probably weren’t at the standard we wanted to be,” reflected Hinch, who is one of over 1,100 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing them to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support.

“We’ve played some of our best in patches, but we haven’t done it for 60 minutes.

“To win this thing we’re going to need to do that at some point, but the main thing is we’re building.

“When we play at our best it’s very exciting.”

England took an early lead through Giselle Ansley after just three minutes, but India dominated much of the first two quarters despite the early blow.

Hinch was called into action on several occasions, including two saves from penalty corners and a last-ditch save to stop Anna Toman sending the ball into her own net.

England eventually added two more in the second half through Tess Howard and Hannah Martin, before India grabbed a late consolation, and Hinch praised her side’s resilience.

“We gave them too many chances, too many corners but we were clinical with our opportunities and didn’t panic,” said Hinch.

“|[It was] a classic against India, it’s always tricky and they’re individually so talented so we needed to be on it defensively.

“We cannot afford to slip up, we need to go out of this pool in top position and having played very well because then we’re into the big games.”

England now face Wales in their next pool game, and Hinch is looking forward to a home nation battle in front of a bumper crowd after terrific support against India.

“The crowd was amazing, it really does make a difference,” added Hinch. “I kick a ball and they all get excited, and that gets me excited.

“Every time I play Wales it’s feisty, it’s not pretty, it’s a classic home nations battle – I expect nothing less.”

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