The Hockeyroos have moved into top spot in Pool D at the 2018 Women’s World Cup following a goalless draw with Belgium at the Lee Valley Hockey Centre in London on Tuesday night (AEST).
Fifth-ranked Australia and 13th-ranked Belgium couldn’t be split, although the Hockeyroos were left to rue their inability to convert any of their six penalty corners.
Australia lost the possession count narrowly 51-49, but won penalty corners 6-0, shots 10-3 and circle penetrations 25-8.
The result does confirm the Hockeyroos’ spot in the knockout stages, securing third place in the pool at a minimum.
Australia is next in action on Sunday (5am AEST) when they face 2018 Commonwealth Games conquerors New Zealand, who suffered a shock 2-1 loss to Japan on Tuesday, to determine final placings in the pool.
The Hockeyroos sit top of Pool D with four points from two games, while New Zealand and Japan are locked on three points, with Belgium last with one point.
“We’re disappointed that we didn’t execute our skills well enough to get the result we wanted.”
He added: “We know New Zealand pretty well. It’s about execution in the circles.
“That was one of our goals and we didn’t quite get there today.”
In young forward Grace Stewart’s 50th match, the opening quarter brought few chances although Australia tested Belgium late on with a pair of short corners.
Young Gold Coast forward Rosie Malone tested Belgian keeper Aisling D’Hooghe with a flat reverse stick shot early in the second period, while Australian custodian Rachael Lynch got down well to thwart Barbara Nelen down the other end shortly after.
Australia spurned two penalty corners shortly prior to half-time, while Georgina Morgan brought out another D’Hooghe save with a 41st minute drag flick.
The impressive Brooke Peris was green carded in the 42nd minute and in her absence Lynch had to produce a top double save to deny both Alix Gerniers and Jill Boon with the follow-up.
Emily Hurtz was yellow carded in the 50th minute and Belgium almost capitalised on their numerical advantage again, but Lynch heroically blocked a good diving chance from Anne-Sophie Weyns.
The Hockeyroos came close to winning the game in the final minute, when Malone drove forward and fired in a shot which forced D’Hooghe into a save. Peris pounced on the rebound but the Belgian keeper denied her too.