Australia defeat Argentina after an early scare

[img_assist|nid=3365|title=On target|desc=Kookaburra’s Mark Paterson – Daniel Carson/Hockey Australia|link=node|align=left|width=274|height=183]Kookaburras 3
(Mark Paterson 45m PC, Luke Doerner 58m PC, Simon Orchard 70m PC) 
Argentina 1
(Matias Vila 9m FG).

(also Netherlands 2 (Valentin Verga 37m FG, Roderick Weusterhof 68m PC) defeated Australia A 1 (Jacob Whetton 58m FG))

The world number one ranked Kookaburras came back from a goal down to beat Argentina 3-1 in the second hockey match of the Kookaburras Challenge on Friday evening at Perth Hockey Stadium.

The National Anthems were still ringing as the Kookaburras exerted early pressure on the Argentinean goal with two shots in the opening minute.  However it was the visitors who took a shock lead when Matias Vila opened the scoring on eight minutes.

The Kookaburras, boasting a starting line up with 1182 international caps, needed to draw on that experience to break down a resolute Argentine defence as both teams used the width of the field well in the early exchanges.

Such was the success of the calm Argentinean defence that it took the Kookaburras until ten minutes into the second half to win their first penalty corner.  The initial shot on goal drawing a low diving save but livewire Mark Patterson was on hand to pounce and bring the scores level.

The pace of the game picked up markedly after this with both teams pressing hard.  Argentina were unable to convert their first penalty corner moments later after a frantic scramble in the Australian goalmouth area drew the home defence into a rare error.

Australia showed composure and did not respond as tempers threaten to boil over as the Argentinean team continued to punch above their world ranking of nine against the 2011 Champions Trophy winners.

Australia finally earned a second penalty corner after sustained pressure on 58 minutes which Luke Doerner duly converted after a clever dummy by Jamie Dwyer drew the rushing defence.

The game was still in the balance and it was not till the 68th minute of the match that the result was put to bed.  After initially giving a penalty corner to the Kookaburras, the umpires convened a awarded a penalty stroke amidst howls of protest from the Argentinean defence.

Midfielder, Simon Orchard calmly stepped up to the penalty spot and put the game beyond doubt as he beat the keeper to make the score 3-1.

In the early game, the Netherlands defeated Australia A 2-1 with the Dutch dominating both territory and possession.

With the game played in stifling 36 degree temperatures, both teams did well to move the ball around but it was the Dutch who dominated most aspects of play including circle penetrations and shots on goal.

Australia A goalkeeper Nathan Burgess was in fine form though repeatedly denying the Dutch strikers as the visitors failed to convert any of its four penalty corners in the first half.

With Tristran Clemons replacing Burgers for the second half, the Dutch took just a minute to break the deadlock through Valentin Verga.

Jacob Whetton restored parity on 58 minutes after a great ball into the strike zone by midfielder, Daniel Hotchkis and Australia A almost stole the lead on four minutes later when a blistering Hotchkis shot was well saved.

The Dutch continued to press forward and forced only their second penalty corner of the second half with two minutes to go with Roderick Weusthoff converting as the Dutch held on to secure the win against a spirited Australia A team.

The series continues on Sunday at Perth Hockey Stadium with the Kookaburras going head-to-head from 7pm after Australia A and Argentina open proceedings at 5pm.