Saturday 16 March 2019 | The Kookaburras have hung on to claim their fourth consecutive FIH Pro League victory, edging past 2016 Rio Olympics gold medallists Argentina 3-2 in front of a healthy Sydney crowd on Saturday afternoon.
Australia shook off any signs of ill-effects following Thursday’s flight delays which forced the team to arrive in Sydney on Friday afternoon, racing to a 3-0 half-time lead at Sydney Olympic Park Hockey Centre.
In a match where there were 19 penalty corners won, Jeremy Hayward fired in two trademark drag flicks from short corners in the 11th and 15th minutes.
Last year’s World Cup top scorer Blake Govers scored his maiden goal of the FIH Pro League with a 30th minute rocket from a short corner too.
Argentina rallied in the second half, with goals from Maico Casella (42’) and Juan Catan (51’), also from penalty corners, but Australia fought hard to hold on for the three points.
The Kookaburras remain second on the standings with 13 points, behind only world champions Belgium.
Australia takes on Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand from 3pm AEDT on Saturday in Sydney.
Hayward said: “It was a nervous finish. We need to take on that second half stronger but we’ll learn from it and come back better tomorrow.”
In Jake Harvie’s 50th match for Australia, Tom Craig and Lachlan Sharp combined early for a half-chance for the Kookaburras which went wide, while Dylan Wotherspoon tested Argentina keeper Juan Vivaldi too.
After Daniel Beale’s fluffed injection from a penalty corner, Australia righted their wrongs from another short corner, with Hayward firing the hosts ahead.
The big Darwin defender added another in near-identical circumstances, rocketing his drag flick beyond Vivaldi with one second left before the quarter-time buzzer.
Govers spurned a 19th minute penalty corner opportunity over the crossbar while some Andrew Charter heroics down the other end ensured it remained 2-0.
Govers added the third shortly prior to half-time, emphatically powering his shot beyond Vivaldi.
Argentina came out after the long interval with intent, as captain Ignacio Ortiz pushed a shot wide after a good one-two.
The visitors got their goal in the 42nd minute with Casella firing high to Charter’s left.
From another penalty corner, Argentina made it 3-2 with Catan’s effort too good for the Canberra keeper.
Argentina pressed hard but couldn’t penetrate the Kookaburras defence in the final minutes with Australia doing enough for the points.
Australia 3 (Hayward 11’, 15’, Govers 30’)Embed from Getty Images
Argentina 2 (Casella 42’, Catan 51’)