Great Britain: Final day of action sees both teams lose out to Australia

Great Britain suffered just their second Pro League London defeat as Australia ran out 5-1 winners at Lee Valley in the final match of the men’s mini-tournaments in Great Britain, with Lee Morton on the scoresheet for the hosts. 

Australia took the lead inside two minutes through Jake Whetton with Morton levelling less than 60 seconds later. 

Jack Welch put Colin Batch’s side back in front just before half-time before Ky Willott and Tom Craig extended the lead in the third quarter, Willott adding his second and Australia’s fifth in the final 15. 

Whetton’s goal was the first chance of the match – he was found in space and powerfully struck past Ollie Payne from just inside the circle, leaving the Holcombe man with no chance. 

In the same minute, though, GB were level through new Amsterdam signing Morton, the Scot sliding in to slap past Johan Durst from Liam Sanford’s through ball. 

Australia failed to threaten from consecutive penalty corners soon after but Payne was called into action towards the end of the quarter, making an incredible stop to deny Lachlan Sharp from point-blank range, with a referral needed to check if the ball crossed the line. 

The visitors saw an early second-quarter goal disallowed for a backtick in the build-up and then saw Craig put an effort just off-target as he flicked the ball up and volleyed on the reverse.

Paul Revington’s side then started to come back into things, with Tim Nurse forcing a save on the reverse before Morton won a penalty corner superbly, Sam Ward seeing a low drag-flick well-saved. 

Batch’s men did then re-take the lead with a little over a minute remaining in the half, Welch converting from a penalty corner before Gareth Furlong saw a flick saved from a GB corner at the other end inside the last 60 seconds. 

Five minutes into the second half, Australia had their third as Willott’s flick deflected past Payne via the first runner’s stick, the goalkeeper then making a double-save at another penalty corner to keep the deficit to two. 

Ward was denied on the turn by Andrew Charter as Great Britain looked to trade blows with their counterparts but it was the Kookaburras who added a fourth before the end of the quarter, Craig getting on the scoresheet. 

Revington’s men saw another corner kept out with Welshman Furlong denied again before his countryman Rupert Shipperley fired a reverse over the bar. 

With nine minutes to go, Australia completed the rout through Willott as he deflected in expertly from Craig’s pass. 

GB came close to a late consolation as Charter saved from Wallace at another penalty corner on a day where the hosts struggled to create from open-play. 

The results leaves Great Britain fifth with four Pro League matches to come against Germany and Belgium in the Netherlands in the coming weeks, on 22 points with four games-in-hand on three of the four sides above them. 

The loss all-but ends any Pro League title hopes for Revington’s side, with GB now 12 points behind table-toppers Australia with four games to play.

Great Britain suffered a first defeat in three Pro League matches as David Ralph’s side lost 3-2 to Australia in London on Wednesday night, courtesy of goals from Grace Balsdon and Tess Howard. 

Balsdon gave the hosts the lead inside five minutes with a drag-flick past Jocelyn Bartram before Katrina Powell’s side turned the game on its head in Q2 with a solo strike from Grace Stewart and a goal in the last minute of the half from Brooke Peris at a penalty corner. 

GB did not lie down, though, and earned their reward when Howard deflected a Balsdon flick in from a 39th-minute penalty corner, the home side arguably then having the better of the chances to go back in front before Rosie Malone’s final-quarter winner eight minutes from time. 

Balsdon’s flick gave Ralph’s team an early advantage, the goal the 36th of Balsdon’s international career to give the hosts hope of just a second win over the Hockeyroos since the Rio 2016 Olympics.

That was the only real chance of Q1 with Australia’s sole penalty corner well-defended.

It took just five second-quarter minutes for Powell’s side to level, however, as Stewart drove into the circle unchallenged and fired past Miriam Pritchard under little pressure, with the visitors then turning the screw as they looked for a lead. 

Mariah Williams forced a good save from Pritchard moments later with Grace Young also forcing the Hampstead & Westminster shot-stopper into action. 

Pritchard again kept the scores level with a good corner save before a re-award at another set piece saw Peris deflect past her from Kaitlin Nobbs’ low drag. 

An even start to the second half followed, with Great Britain getting their equaliser on 39 minutes, Howard deflecting a low Balsdon flick past the goalkeeper for her third Pro League goal of the season. 

Soon after, Charlotte Watson was unlucky not to get on the end of Ellie Rayer’s cutback after good work from the latter, with Williams then firing wide at another penalty corner as Australia looked to re-take their lead. 

Ralph’s side piled on the pressure in the final quarter with a whole host of penalty corners, which saw Anna Toman come close twice. 

Australia did not give their hosts such respite, though, as Malone deflected past Pritchard from a penalty corner with eight minutes left to give the Hockeyroos the three points.

GB remain seventh with four games to play, five points behind Belgium – who they face twice in the Netherlands later this month. 

Australia conclude their Pro League campaign in fifth-place but could drop depending on Belgium and Great Britain’s results.

by Great Britain Hockey

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