Australia: Kookaburras send final warning before Paris with commanding 5-1 win over Great Britain


australia kookaburras send final warning before paris with commanding 5 1 win over great britain 6685d53a379a9 - Australia: Kookaburras send final warning before Paris with commanding 5-1 win over Great Britain - Australia:The Kookaburras have sent a strong message to their nearest rivals ahead of the Paris Olympic Games, wrapping up the FIH Pro League season with a 5-1 win over powerhouses Great Britain.

Starting the match in front of a packed East London crowd, the Kookaburras predicted it would be a tight, fiery encounter and the first two minutes certainly lived up to that. 

Straight off the whistle, Australia had an electric pace that caught Great Britain on the back foot. Namely, NSW’s Lachlan Sharp put down a firing run with a bullet pass to Jake Whetton who sent the ball straight past the sole defender and the English keeper to open the scoring.

But on the very next play, Great Britain would answer straight back with a fast team goal, finished off brilliantly with a great shot by Lee Morton.

Australia tried to fire back but disallowed goals to Lachlan Sharp and Tom Craig halted their resurgence early and it was only a matter of time before they would finally retake the lead.

Their moment came right on half-time, with a penalty corner that saw Tasmania’s Jack Welch strike off a great push in by captain Aran Zalewski. 

Five minutes after the half, Ky Willott continued the charge off of another penalty corner, his strike sailed low and fast beyond the keeper’s right leg and into the back of the net. 

With little time to celebrate, the Kookaburras earned another penalty corner and although it came close, their fourth goal wouldn’t land. By now, Great Britain was frustrated and desperate to claw back a two-goal deficit but a desperate attempt on goal wouldn’t go their way and the next moment was all Australia’s Tom Craig.

Jack Welch almost had a double, but his attempt deflected off Great Britain’s defence, where Player of the Match Tom Craig was ready to finish it off from the right-hand side.

“Our team is just playing so well and we’re playing a lot of guys in form. It was pretty kind to be awarded [Player of the Match] today. I think it could have gone to like 10 other guys on the field. So a bit of a coin flip there, but definitely happy and happy that everyone else is playing so well as well,” Tom said post-match.

With a goal and two solid assists, Tom’s final act saw Ky Willott bag a double and a fifth goal to down the hosts.

Fired up, Ky, who celebrated his 50th cap for the Kookaburras yesterday, was ready and waiting to deliver on Tom’s assist with a powerful goal that would not miss.

Tom Craig says the Kookaburras are now in prime position.

“If we can keep that top spot we qualify for the World Cup. So fingers crossed there, but it’s out of our hands, and there are a lot of good teams that are still yet to play, so we’ll see,” Tom said.

“We’re pretty happy with that, it’s been a long tour, eight games, with four games in five days, times two, so that’s a long hard tour and to finish like that is very pleasing.

“I think everyone was really looking forward to this month and it showed out there. To come here and play Germany, who are very structured and play zonal style and then Great Britain who are very willing counter-attacking, full throttle all the time. It’s exactly what we want and it’s good fun playing against the two teams.”

Kookaburras coach Colin Batch reflected on the result and the tour post-match.

“You keep striving to improve all the way through and I think we did that. To be fair, I don’t think it was our best performance today. There were a lot of errors out there but a lot of pressure as well and GB put a lot of pressure on us and kept coming up you know with strong attacks so we had to repel that.

“I think we did a good job and of course, on the positive side we scored five goals so that’s pleasing.”

With Season 5 of the FIH Pro League complete for the Kookaburras and Hockeyroos, both teams will return home to Perth tomorrow and take a week off before resuming training ahead of the Paris Olympics. 

The Kookaburras and Hockeyroos squads to contest the Paris 2024 Olympics will be named on Monday, July 1.

Kookaburras v Great Britain
Kookaburras: 5 (Jake Whetton 5′ (FG), Jack Welch 29′ (PC), Ky Willott 35′ (PC) & 51′ (FG), Tom Craig 45′ (FG))
Great Britain: 1 (Lee Morton 2′ (FG))
At Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre, London

Kookaburras: 1. Lachlan Sharp, 3. Corey Weyer, 4. Jake Harvie, 5. Tom Wickham, 6. Matt Dawson, 8. Johan Durst (gk), 11. Eddie Ockenden, 12. Jake Whetton, 17. Aran Zalewski (c), 21. Jack Welch, 29. Tim Brand, 2. Tom Craig, 7. Nathan Ephraums, 10. Joshua Beltz, 16. Tim Howard, 20. Ky Willott, 22. Flynn Ogilvie, 30. Andrew Charter (gk)

Australia Hockey

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