Saturday, July 13, 2024

Hockey Pro League: Ruthless Australia men put Great Britain to the sword

London — No Blake Govers, no bother for Australia. The Kookaburras finished their FIH Pro League campaign by laying down a marker for their rivals at the top of the standings, as well as an ominous sign of their form heading into the Paris Olympics, following a 5-1 win over Great Britain on Wednesday evening.

A Ky Willott double led the way, which included one penalty corner and a sumptuous breakaway team goal, as the Kookaburras bagged back-to-back wins against their old rivals in a ruthless display of circle finishing and power running over an out-of-touch GB outfit, albeit an encounter which was a tighter affair than the scoreline suggests compared to their opening defeat against Colin Batch’s side.

There’s no let up over 60 minutes with Australia. They effectively scored three goals in as many minutes, following their two late, late goals in their come-from-behind victory over Germany, as they started defiantly in the final men’s match of the London mini tournament.

After Rupert Shipperley’s reverse attempt in the opening seconds, Lachlan Sharp was handed too much time to run up field and picked Jake Whetton, who shot first time at the top of the D and all too quick for Ollie Payne’s left foot. 

While Australia’s opener had come from three passess in their midfield, Great Britain’s equaliser with the next move was more patient. A four-way interchange in their half led to Liam Sanford move and link up field, a one-touch pass from Shipperley found Lee Morton to slap home.

With under five minutes left, Payne produced a remarkable full stretch dive to deny Sharp’s scooped shot after a danger ball across GB’s goal mouth.

Australia were down to nine briefly through two green card infringements. With GB then down to 10 and Sam Ward sitting out, Australia countered from a 23m free out and surged up field. Seconds later and a circle battery emerging, they had the ball in the net. GB successfully referred for a back stick.

Morton won a brace of GB PC’s, both cleared by Johan Durst. At the other end, Australia continued to feign two sets of decoy moves to try and deceive the GB runners. With Govers sitting out this final match in London, Jack Welsh slotted home. 

-READ MORE: Paris Olympics 2024: Match schedules

Durst’s left pad kept Australia a neck in front at the break before Andrew Charter took over pad duties. And Australia duly doubled their lead when Willott’s 35th-minute PC took a heavy deflection off Brendan Creed’s stick, handing Payne little chance.

With 30 seconds left of the third quarter, Australia were afforded too much circle space in a three-way move and the excellent Tom Craig powered home.

Willott’s second was classic Australia counter punching. Craig picked out a huge aerial towards the GB baseline and a pinpoint pass found Willott, the Newcastle man angling past Payne on the run. Willott had some pointed words aimed at Jacob Draper in celebration.

Craig said: “Our team is just playing so well and we’re playing a lot of guys in form. It was pretty kind to be awarded [Player of the Match] today. I think it could have gone to like 10 other guys on the field. So a bit of a coin flip there, but definitely happy and happy that everyone else is playing so well as well.”

Total Hockey

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