After eight games in six days across both genders, Great Britain women finally earned the first victory during an international tour like no other.
Behind closed doors and with tour bubbles in place, GB women beat Belgium 2-1 for their first outright victory while GB men lost their fourth match in a row, a narrow 2-1 defeat to the world champs in Brussels.
If there were tired legs out there, GB women’s coach Mark Hager had refused to blame the tour intensity during it. By the end, tour debutant Fiona Crackles had picked up the player of the match award and admitted that the squad’s overall physicality had won through.
GB secured the points thanks to two PC goals, scored by Lily Owsley’s deflective stick and Sarah Robertson on her 50th GB appearance, either side of a Barbara Nelen leveller.
Crackles said: “I think we’re a really resilient team. We’ve had four games in a week so we were feeling it in our legs but it didn’t really matter.
“We knew we had to leave nothing in the tank and grind it out because we know when it comes to the last quarter we can win that last quarter.
“We’re really happy. We came into this game saying we had to win, we couldn’t have anything less. Credit to everyone here, we put a massive shift in and it was a really well fought game.”
Hager had been without several top stars this week and having called up a trio of development programme players, the Australian is undoubtedly aware of the talent now available to him, more so given that before this tour he had also been present at a game during every Premier Division weekend thus far.
Meanwhile, GB men return to the UK on the back of a tour which yielded little success against European hockey’s two powerhouses.
John-John Dohmen and Alexander Hendrickx bagged more Pro League points for the hosts after David Condon had given GB men the lead.
Zach Wallace said: “I think it’s a bit of a reality check for us. We put in four good performances but it just shows how close it is as the top of international hockey. You’ve got to put away your chances and unfortunately we’ve not done that.”
GB men and women are next due to play in mid-November when Germany visit. It may be the only hockey – domestic or international – for quite some time following England’s lockdown announcements this weekend, while it is not yet known if the Germans will be able to travel for the Bisham Abbey games.