The Kookaburras have taken a major step towards an automatic spot in the 2018 World Cup quarter-finals after final quarter blitz sealed a 3-0 win over England in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday night.
Three pinpoint finishes in a 10-minute last quarter blitz from Jake Whetton (47’), Blake Govers (50’) and Corey Weyer (56’) sealed an important three points for the top-ranked Australia.
🇦🇺 47' Jake Whetton (FG)
🇦🇺 50' Blake Govers (FG)
🇦🇺 56' Corey Weyer (FG) pic.twitter.com/4HdPNYer6a
— The DragFlick™ (@thedragflick) December 4, 2018
The two sides had been evenly matched in the first half, with seventh-ranked England coming closest when Phil Roper hit the post while Kookaburras keeper Tyler Lovell produced a stick save from Mark Gleghorne’s effort from a short corner to keep scores level at the main break.
Australia stepped it up a gear after half-time, pressing with intent, before their hat-trick of goals in the final period which were all exceptional finishes.
Whetton fired into the backboard after Tom Craig’s fine run, before Govers powered in a stunning shot on the turn following Trent Mitton’s baseline raid.
Man of the Match Matthew Swann set up Weyer for the sealer, with the Gold Coast product nailing a centimetre-perfect shot. Speaking after the match, Swann said:
“Team work makes the dream work. Our boys put some quality goals on. That last quarter was amazing. Whetty’s goal, Blake’s goal, Wiz’s goal, they were all incredible. It took three quarters to separate us. Fortunately in that last quarter we picked it up a gear and were able to come away with a win.”
Australia won all key statistics, with 23-12 circle penetrations, 3-1 penalty corners, 9-4 shots and 56-44 per cent possession in the opposition half.
Lovell made the first save of the game in the 12th minute when he blocked Barry Middleton’s reverse stick shot with David Condon lurking for a deflection.
Australia won the first PC of the game in the 21st minute with England keeper George Pinner saving well from Govers’ drag flick.
England went down the other end with Roper hitting the upright in the 22nd minute.
Australia almost punished the English after they went down to 10 men when Michael Hoare was green carded in the 27thminute, but Govers pushed a shot marginally wide after Tim Brand’s pass.
An onrushing Pinner thwarted Daniel Beale’s chance, before Lovell had to be alert with his stick to deny Gleghorne’s goalbound drag flick in the 30th minute.
After the long interval, Govers’ deflected flick was saved low by Pinner, who was also tested by Flynn Ogilvie after a baseline run.
Australia broke the deadlock two minutes into the last period when Whetton smashed a superb shot into the backboard from just inside the D after Craig’s slalom run.
Govers produced some magic with a scintillating shot two minutes later, before Weyer capped a fine Swann raid to make it 3-0.
Speaking after the match, goal-scorer Jake Whetton said:
“It’s nice as I’m playing in a little bit of a different position and the coach is always encouraging me to get into that position at the top of the circle. I’ve been working on a goal-shot like that for a little while so happy it paid off. It was a tough game – to come away with a win was really good. England are a quality side so we are really happy we are on the six points going into [the] China [match] in a couple of days.”
Australia will wait on the late game in Pool B between Ireland and China PR to learn if they’ve secured top spot. A draw would ensure neither side could leapfrog the Kookaburras into top spot, meaning Australia would have booked their quarter-final berth.