Australian over 40s hockey team brings home gold thanks to inspired performance from Border star Nan Latta

GREEN AND GOLD: Nan Latta and her Australian teammates show off their medals after a thrilling Trans-Tasman series win against New Zealand.
GREEN AND GOLD: Nan Latta and her Australian teammates show off their medals after a thrilling Trans-Tasman series win against New Zealand.

Border hockey star Nan Latta led the Australian over 40s to a thrilling victory in the Trans-Tasman series against New Zealand.

The best off three-match series had to be decided by a sudden death shootout, with Latta scoring the goal that secured Australia the title and the gold medal.

Australia came from 1-0 down to secure a 1-1 draw in game one on the back of a late goal from Latta, but found themselves under huge pressure after dropping game two 3-0.

The visitors kept the Kiwi team goalless in the second half after an onslaught in the opening stanza to stay in the hunt for a series win.

Latta’s side produced a brilliant recovery in game three with a 3-0 victory to tie the series at 4-4 on aggregate and send it to a shootout, before ultimately claiming the title.

It was Latta’s fourth Trans-Tasman series and second victory.

She admitted it was one of the best New Zealand teams she had ever played against in her hockey career.

“Six of them play together every week  in Christchurch, so they had a really good core and had a lot more game history behind them than we did,” Latta said.

“We really shouldn’t have won, but we just played a better team game and came together at the right time.

“We changed our game plan significantly in the last match.

“I went back into the midfield, where I’m normally a striker, because they were always double-teaming me up front.

“We played a different structure and that allowed one of our midfielders to go up front and create a bit of havoc.”

The veteran said it was again a great privilege to be the captain of an Australian team and hopes she can maintain that position by gaining selection into next year’s World Cup squad in Spain.

“I’ve got the Australian championships at the end of September and then the World Cup teams will be picked from there, so that’s the next landmark for me,” Latta said.

“Masters isn’t seen as being a bit of hit and giggle now, it’s the next step for players that want to still play at the higher level, which is really good.”

A total of 157 points were up for grabs in the men’s and women’s competitions during the series, with just six points and six goals the difference between the two countries across 12 different teams.

Latta will continue to play club hockey with Hawthorn in Melbourne’s premier competition on Saturdays and with local team Norths on Sundays, to be in good form for the nationals.