The Burras have suffered a first-up defeat to Japan going down 2-1 in their opening match of the 2018 Sultan of Johor Cup at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium on Saturday night.
The Japanese came back from a goal down to claim the win, before they absorbed the pressure and in the later stages took the game to the Australians.
Reigning champions Australia were kept at bay for almost 29 minutes by the tireless Japanese. It was the Australians who had the bigger share of the possession.
But poor finishing was their bane as they missed no less than three sitters.
Credit must be given to the Japanese for their tenacious defending as they had every player behind the ball.
The Japanese had an early look at goal in the seventh minute when they earned a penalty corner. But the attempt was foiled by the Australians.
Most of the two quarters were a tussle in midfield with the Australians trying very hard to get the goals.
With 30 seconds for the second quarter to end, the Australians finally earned their first penalty corner.
Damon Steffens made no mistake with the direct flick and scored the opening goal for his team.
In the third quarter, the Japanese started off strongly and gained their second penalty corner.
Raiki Fujishima’s direct flick hit an Australian player’s leg and sailed into the net for the equaliser.
The equaliser also changed the game with the Japanese becoming the aggressors. The Australians continued to have chances at goals, but their shots were either saved or off target.
With 20 seconds to go for the match to end, the Japanese earned their third penalty corner of the match. And the Japanese went on to create their biggest upset in the junior arena with Shoji Iseki scoring the attempt.
Australian coach Chris O’Reilly said the first match jitters got to the players and hoped to bounce back quickly.
“There is no doubt that we made some unforced errors and our decision making was also poor,” he said.
“No doubt we could have scored more goals and won easily but overall it was a poor showing. That has to do with the first match nervousness.”
Australia will play hosts Malaysia next on Sunday from 11:35pm AEDT.
Burras’ 2018 Sultan of Johor Cup schedule:
Saturday 6 October 8:05pm (AEST) – Australia 1 Japan 2
Sunday 7 October 11:35pm (AEDT) – Australia v Malaysia
Tuesday 9 October 7:05pm (AEDT) – Australia v Great Britain
Wednesday 10 October 7:05pm (AEDT) – Australia v India
Friday 12 October 11:35pm (AEDT) – Australia v New Zealand
Saturday 13 October – Finals
Burras’ 2018 Sultan of Johor Cup team:
Cade Banditt (QLD)
Hayden Beltz (TAS)
Lachlan Busiko (SA)
Hayden Dillon (NSW)
Nathan Ephraums (VIC)
Matthew Finn (QLD)
Matthew Fisher (WA)
Liam Flynn (WA)
Coby Green (WA)
Niranjan Gupte (ACT)
Ehren Hazell (NSW)
Brayden King (WA)
Dylan Martin (NSW)
Daniel McBride (VIC)
Alec Rasmussen (WA)
Ben Staines (ACT)
Damon Steffens (VIC)
Blake Wotherspoon (QLD)