Kookaburras put Great Britain to the sword in Sydney

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The Kookaburras have produced a scintillating attacking display to thrash Great Britain 5-1 in their FIH Pro League match in Sydney to move up to third position on the table.

Dylan Wotherspoon, Lachlan Sharp, Tom Craig, Tim Brand and Trent Mitton all scored, feasting on the home side’s dominance across the pitch which saw the Kookaburras generate 32 circle penetrations and 15 shots.

“Playing back to back games is always interesting and I thought we approached the game pretty well and obviously got a good result from it,” said Kookaburras Head Coach Colin Batch after the Kookaburras won game one in a shootout.

“We fell in a hole in the third quarter yesterday so there was some emphasis on our defensive intensity today which was much better, and Great Britain have got some great attacking players so we needed to be on top of that.

“We managed to create opportunities throughout and when you are doing that you feel like you are in control of the game, but things can turn around really quickly.

“In the first three games we had 10 goals scored against us so we need to tidy up our defence. To win hockey matches you need to create and score, but you also need to defend well so that’s an area we can improve on.

“We feel as though we are getting some connections and momentum going but we start again against India in India and it will be interesting because we haven’t played them for a while and I believe they are one of the improving sides of the past 12 months.”

After conceding the first penalty corner opportunity of the match, Australia got into the groove with Mitton twice forcing Great Britain goalkeeper Harry Gibson into clutch saves.

The deadlock was eventually broken when Flynn Ogilvie found Wotherspoon completely unmarked and his first timed slap shot found the bottom corner after 14 minutes.

Great Britain found an equaliser early in the second quarter when Luke Taylor’s powerful dragflick found a way through Australia’s defences.

The Kookaburras responded almost instantly with Aran Zalewski mesmerising the Great Britain midfield before Eddie Ockenden’s damaging overlap run found Wotherspoon whose quick shot rebounded for Sharp to complete the simplest of tap ins.

Tim Howard’s crucial tackle and interception to foil a threatening Great Britain build up five minutes before half time typified the Kookaburras’ approach and application.

The home side took a deserving 3-1 lead into the main break with another sublimely worked team goal on the counter attack as Craig continued his rich vein of form. Wotherspoon combined with the 100-game forward who was able to match his blistering run with a top-drawer finish over the goalkeeper’s shoulder.

The third quarter followed a similar trend, with Brand forcing Gibson into a smart save before Zalewski struck the crossbar off a well-rehearsed penalty corner variation.

It mattered little though, with the Kookaburras regaining possession and Zalewski found Brand for a far post deflection to make it 4-1.

Great Britain’s decision to withdraw their goalkeeper in the final six minutes proved costly, with Craig turning provider for Mitton to knock into the unguarded net from a narrow angle.

Teammates swarm Kurt Lovett after the goal that wasn’t.

There was still time for Jake Whetton to blaze over the bar, before debutant Kurt Lovett appeared to have marked his international career with a goal as the final siren sounded.

To the crowd’s disappointment, the goal was disallowed on review to deny the fairytale moment for the local, but even that could not take the gloss off an impressive Kookaburras performance.

Despite his goal being ruled out, a jubilant Lovett was all smiles after the game with his family making the five hour drive from Parkes to watch him.

“I knew it wasn’t a goal straight away. I heard the hooter go and knew it went in after that,” said Lovett.”

“I should have looked at the clock a bit earlier but didn’t know exactly how long was left and took too much time but I’m still happy.”

“Being my first game the boys really got around me and I still got a celebration in even though it got ruled out.

“It was really special to play my first game at home. Having my family and friends here together with the positive result, it doesn’t get much better.”

The Kookaburras will fly back to Perth tomorrow to prepare for their next FIH Pro League matches in India on 22/23 February.

All of the Kookaburras’ FIH Pro League matches are LIVE on Kayo and/or Fox Sports.

Match Details
Kookaburras 5 (Wotherspoon 14’, Sharp 19’, Craig 29’, Brand 45’, Mitton 55’)
Great Britain 1 (Taylor 18’)
@ Sydney Olympic Park Hockey Centre

Kookaburras: 1.Lachlan Sharp, 2.Tom Craig, 3.Corey Weyer, 4.Jake Harvie, 6.Matthew Dawson, 11.Eddie Ockenden (c), 12.Jake Whetton, 16.Tim Howard, 17.Aran Zalewski, 18.Kurt Lovett, 20.Matthew Swann, 22.Flynn Ogilvie, 25.Trent Mitton, 26.Dylan Wotherspoon, 29.Tim Brand, 30.Andrew Charter (gk), 32.Jeremy Hayward
Unused Substitute: 24.Tyler Lovell (gk)

Great Britain: 3.Luke Taylor, 5.David Ames, 7.Alan Forsyth, 8.Rupert Shipperley, 9.Harry Martin, 10.Chris Griffiths, 11.Ian Sloan, 14.Mark Gleghorne, 15.Phil Roper, 16.Adam Dixon (c), 17.Ashley Jackson, 23.Harry Gibson (gk), 26.James Gall, 29.Tom Sorsby, 31.Will Calnan, 32.Zach Wallace, 33.Jacob Draper
Unused substitute: 1.George Pinner (gk)

FIH Pro League 2020 matches – Sydney Olympic Park Hockey Centre
Saturday 25 January
Kookaburras 2 (Hayward 49’, Craig 51’)
Belgium 2 (Briels 18’, Denayer 59’)
Belgium wins 4-2 on penalties

Sunday 26 January
Kookaburras 2 (Sharp 42’, Hayward 60’)
Belgium 4 (Hendrickx 13’/25’, Plennevaux 56’, Stockbroekx 58’)

Saturday 1 February
Kookaburras 4 (Ockenden 19’, Wickham 29’, Zalewski 56’, Mitton 59’)
Great Britain 4 (Jackson 20’, Wallace 31’, Shipperley 44’, Ansell 45’)
Kookaburras win 3-1 on penalties

Sunday 2 February
Kookaburras 5 (Wotherspoon 14’, Sharp 19’, Craig 29’, Brand 45’, Mitton 55’)
Great Britain 1 (Taylor 18’)

Click here for a full list of the Kookaburras’ FIH Pro League 2020 fixtures.