Kookaburras head for quarters with third straight draw
5 December 2017
HOCKEY: The Kookaburras have narrowly missed out on second spot in Pool B at the FIH Men’s Hockey World League Final following a third straight draw after scores finished 2-2 with England in Bhubaneswar on Monday night.
Australia were denied the victory which would’ve seen them leapfrog England into second, when Blake Govers’ drag flick and Daniel Beale’s shot from the rebound both hit the post in the final seconds of the match.
The draw means Australia finishes third in Pool B, behind Germany and England, and will meet second from Pool A in the quarter-finals on Wednesday or Thursday.
Australia will need to wait until Tuesday night’s Pool A matches are completed to learn their quarter-final opponent, which could be either Spain, Argentina, Netherlands or least likely Belgium.
For the third consecutive match, Australia were made to come from behind after conceding early.
Like Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Germany, the Kookaburras fought back with two third-quarter goals from Dylan Wotherspoon (33’) and Govers (41’) in his 50th game.
Australia were denied their maiden win of the tournament when the English, in veteran Barry Middleton’s 400th game, levelled via Phil Roper (54’).
Man of the Match Matthew Swann said: “We were going for a win today. We’ve had three games and three draws.
“This game was very important. It was also very important for the English team with Barry Middleton with his 400th Test match. That’s incredible.
“Congratulations to him, thank you to the crowd, we’re just happy we put on another good show.”
England started the game the better, with David Goodfield squaring to Liam Ansell from the baseline for the opening goal in the fourth minute.
Australia rallied and pressed for an equaliser for the remainder of the first quarter, with third gamer Lachlan Sharp denied after a Govers’ intercept.
England’s David Condon had an effort saved by Tyler Lovell, while Govers’ drag flick from a penalty corner was also thwarted by opposition keeper George Pinner before the break.
Australia’s pressure told in the third quarter when Swann darted down the right and squared for Wotherspoon to convert the equaliser, although England referred the goal which got the all-clear from the video umpire.
Pinner brilliantly denied Tom Wickham before Govers’ clever video referral opened up an opportunity for a penalty corner, which he converted with a powerful flick.
England pushed for a leveller early in the final term and got on level terms when Condon found Roper for a close-range finish past Tristan Clemons.
Australia had their chance to win it, with a series of penalty corners in the 60th minute, with Govers and Beale coming closest when they were both denied by the post.
Australia 2 (Wotherspoon 33', Govers 41')
England 2 (Ansell 4', Roper 54')