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Japan’s Cherry Blossoms beat Australia to Four Nations hockey title

Japan’s form continued in 4 Nations event PIC: Hockey Australia

By The Hockey Paper

Japan’s memorable 2018 continued in fine style on Sunday as they won the Four Nations Final with another higher-ranking upset, this time a 2-1 victory over Australia in Ibaraki.

Renee Taylor had put world No 3 Australia ahead in the third minute, in stand-in captain Jane Claxton’s 150th game, but Japan responded before quarter-time through Miyu Suzuki.

Mai Toriyama deflected home from Naho Ichitani’s pass for what proved to be the match winner as Australia attempted to force a shoot-out.

Japan, the world No 14, will now head to the year-ending Champions Trophy in buoyant mood after their recent Asian Games victory.

Meanwhile, Hockeyroos coach Paul Gaudoin said: “I thought we got into it towards the end of the first half. It shows how important penalty corners are.”

Chasing an equaliser in the last 15, Bone again caused chaos inside the D with a driven cross, but Japan goalkeeper Akio Tanaka pushed it away, before Grace Stewart flashed a 58th minute shot wide in the final real chance.

Korea beat USA for third place.

 

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