Sultan of Johor Cup: Great Britain lead a three way race to the final

SJC TableIt’s all hotting up in Malaysia ahead of the final day of the round robin matches.

1st placed Great Britain take on 2nd placed India, in a match the pits the most cohesive defensive unit, and the only remaining unbeaten side, against Jude Sebastian and his free scoring India, being led by the prolific Dilpreet Singh.

Great Britain will be going into the match high in confidence, knowing that they need just a single point to guarantee a place in the final on Sunday, after a scintillating performance against the Australians.

“I am very pleased to beat Australia as they are a very good team,” said Great Britain head coach Jon Bleby. “When you play Australia it’s always exciting. We have two matches to go and we need to prepare and work very hard. I think the players did a good job in the first half.”

Australian head coach Brent Livermore was disappointed with the score and blamed his players for not following the process.

“Yes I am very disappointed. We lacked discipline and did not stick to the process. In one-on-one process we are mentally and physically fitter and stronger. We also lacked the urgency and Great Britain played very much the way we had expected them to play. Unfortunately we only played 50 per cent of our capacity,” said Livermore.

The Australians and British renewed their rivalry under cloudy skies and a light drizzle with several near-miss chances in the first quarter. Both teams could not find the gaps to put the ball through due to astute defensive tactics mobilised.

However, Great Britain, champions here in 2015, went on to score first, thanks to a field goal by Nicholas Park in the 25th minute as he sneaked the ball past goalkeeper George McGeoch much to the excitement of the motley English fans.

But it was a short-lived lead as Lachlan Busiko rallied back to equalise for Australia in the very next minute and Nathan Ephraums extended the lead in the 28th minute in similar fashion. It was 18-year-old Ephraums’ seventh goal in the tournament.

The third quarter resumed with Great Britain earning its fourth penalty corner but once again drew blank when team captain Jack Waller lifted the ball over the bar.

But those tricky and anxious moments were soon kept behind as Callum Mackenzie restored parity in the 41st minute via a field goal and Edward Way showed the way from a penalty corner two minutes before end of the quarter to give Great Britain a 3-2 lead for the first time.

Duncan Scott then drummed the final nail in the 58th minute as Great Britain celebrated a marvellous 4-2 win.

Great Britain then went on to secure a 3-1 win against Japan on Thursday.

Now after a welcomed days rest, the young Great Britain side will be itching to lock horns with the early tournament favourites and earn themselves a place in Sundays final.

Certainly a match not to be missed.  Live streaming, sponsored by Mercian Hockey, is available on YouTube from 0900, just search for “Sultan Johor Hockey”.

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