Kookaburras thrash South Africa
30 July 2012
HOCKEY: The Kookaburras have made an impressive start to their 2012 London Olympic Games campaign, dominating South Africa and winning 6-0 at Riverbank Arena.
The result could have been even more impressive had the Kookaburras made the most of their ample opportunities in front of goals.
There was cause for further celebration, with five-time World Player of the Year Jamie Dwyer scoring three of the six goals to become the equal highest goal scorer in Australian history. The Kookaburras dominated the first half of the match against South Africa but failed to make the most of their opportunities, taking in a 2-0 half time lead despite multiple shots on goal.
In a sign of their dominance, the Kookaburras had five penalty corners to zero in the first half, but failed to convert any of them.
Although South Africa put up a good early resistance defensively, eventually the Kookaburras began to work their way on top thanks to their superior skill.
However it didn’t go all their way early, with goalkeeper Nathan Burgers going down after a collision with a South African striker.
They then found themselves a player down after Tim Deavin was sent off with a yellow card.
Dwyer then steadied the ship, drawing a penalty stroke after his shot on goal struck the body of the South African defender. He converted the stroke, and gave the Kookaburras a deserving lead.
By mid-way through the half the Kookaburras were well on top, but still not getting reward for their effort.
It appeared they had a break through after Russell Ford scored from a penalty corner, however the video referral showed that the ball had hit his foot before he got his shot away.
Finally the Kookaburras added to their tally, with Dwyer again involved with a brilliant shot from the baseline which was finished by Matthew Butturini to make it 2-0 before half time.
Things continued to improve for the Kookaburras after half time, eventually making the most of their penalty corners, with Chris Ciriello scoring his first ever Olympic goal to make it 3-0.
Dwyer quickly added to the scoreboard and made it 4-0 only minutes later, and all of a sudden the Kookaburras were firing.
After being awarded a second penalty stroke towards the end of the match Dwyer made it 5-0, with a final goal from Glenn Turner following a brilliant run from Simon Orchard making it 6-0 at full time.
Jamie Dwyer said although it was nice to get an early win, the team still had much to improve on.
"I think if you asked us at the start of the day if we would take a 6-0 win over South Africa we would take it straight away because they are a very tough side,” Dwyer said.
“However we weren't solid enough in the circle which is something we are going to have to get better at if we want to progress to the semi finals.
But overall we are happy with the result.
“South Africa were always going to be hard to beat, but we still have some improvement.”
Coach Ric Charlesworth echoed Dwyer’s sentiment.
"We are a work in progress,” the master coach said.
“I think our corners weren't as good as they could have been and we didn't finish off well when we were in dangerous positions.
“But at the first game of the Olympics players are nervous and we only have five players who have played at the Olympics before which brings tension which is hard to define, but it is real.”
Shaun Anderson in London