KOOKABURRAS WITHSTAND LATE CHARGE TO WIN PRO LEAGUE TITLE

The Kookaburras are the inaugural FIH Pro League champions and new world number one ranked team after a 3-2 victory against Belgium in Amstelveen.

All three of Australia’s goals were scored in the first half, with Trent Mitton, Flynn Ogilvie, and Blake Govers getting Australia off to a flying start.

But the Belgians fought back in the second half, getting two goals back and setting up a thrilling finish.

The match started with a painful blow to Belgium’s star Arthur van Doren, who inadvertently received a stick to the back of the knee after slipping in front of Jacob Anderson’s path as he was taking a shot.

AMSTELVEEN – ernstige knieblessure bij Arthur van Doren (Belgie) tijdens de finale Australie-Belgie (3-2) , bij de Pro League Grand Final hockeywedstrijd heren… COPYRIGHT KOEN SUYK

Jake Whetton pounced on a slow-moving Belgian defender to launch a rapid attack into the circle, the ball landing in the path of Trent Mitton who made no mistake in scoring the first goal of the Grand Final in the ninth minute.

AMSTERDAM – 2019 FIH Pro League Australia v Belgium (Final) Photo: Australia scored a goal. Trent Mitton WORLDSPORTPICS COPYRIGHT FRANK UIJLENBROEK

A second goal came not long after, with the ball trapped along the baseline Flynn Ogilvie drifted into a large area of undefended space to receive the ball and get his shot away unchallenged.

The second quarter provided both teams with penalty corner opportunities, but it was a penalty stroke going the way of Blake Govers that allowed Australia to score a third goal.

A review was called for after the Belgian defender made a tackle from behind without getting the ball, the video umpire decided that a penalty stroke was warranted – and Govers finished with ice-cold composure.

A series of five consecutive penalty corners for Belgium threatened to get them back into the game, but the discipline of the Australian defence coupled with some good saves from Tyler Lovell frustrated the Belgians.

AMSTELVEEN – Tom Boon (Belgie) tijdens de finale Australie-Belgie (3-2) , bij de Pro League Grand Final hockeywedstrijd heren… COPYRIGHT KOEN SUYK

With their eighth penalty corner attempt of the quarter, Belgium finally broke through the Australian defence with a drag flick from Loick Luypaert proving unstoppable.

Belgium struck again late in the final quarter through another penalty corner, this time from Alexander Hendrickx to set up a tense final two minutes.

But the Australians held their nerve in the final stages of the match, and reached the final buzzer as the new Pro League champions and world number one ranked team.

Speaking after the match Kookaburras keeper Tyler Lovell said “it was game of two halves, we played pretty well in the first half and then not so well in the second. Belgium are a quality team and we expected them to come at us hard in the second [half] which they did. We absorbed it well and managed to get ourselves across the line.”

AMSTELVEEN – Jake Whetton (Austr.), keeper Tyler Lovell (Austr.) en Matthew Swann (Austr.) met de cup na de finale Australie-Belgie (3-2) , bij de Pro League Grand Final hockeywedstrijd heren. COPYRIGHT KOEN SUYK

Australia 3 (Mitton 9’, Ogilvie 14’, Govers 29’)

Belgium 2 (Luypaert 44’, Hendrickx 58’)

Images: WorldSportPics
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