Kookaburras and Hockeyroos through to Pro League finals
17 June 2019
HOCKEY: The Kookaburras and Hockeyroos have both secured a top-four finish in the 2019 FIH pro league.
The Hockeyroos secured their place in the finals in Amsterdam later this month after a 3-1 victory over Germany in Krefeld on Sunday.
Australia could not have gotten off to a better start, with Jane Claxton scoring twice in the opening three minutes of the match, played in the opponents’ home country of Germany.
Her first goal was the result of a crash ball that collected a touch from a German defender and landed in her path for a regulation trap and back foot shot to the opposite corner of the goal. Less than a minute later, she scored her second from a diving effort to tap the ball in after a long-range aerial ball from midfield caught the hosts off guard.
After the chaotic opening minutes, the hosts settled into the game and started to generate attacks, however an innocuous knee injury to Germany’s Charlotte Stapenhorst brought the match to a halt in the 12th minute. Australia scored their third goal in the 21st minute after a goalmouth scramble - Emily Chalker looked to have scored, however Germany reviewed believing there was body contact with the ball.
After a lengthy review, the goal stood and Germany were allowed to keep their referral as there was no advice possible from upstairs.
Half time came with Australia holding a comfortable 3-0 lead, and confidence running high. However, Germany came out of the break with renewed fight - and a green card to Savannah Fitzpatrick gave the hosts the opening they needed.
Hannah Gablac made the most of the numerical advantage and scored immediately to get her team back in the contest. Australia forced several penalty corners in the third quarter, however they were not able to effectively finish their chances, and went into the final quarter with a two-goal advantage.
The final term started with a brilliant double stop from Jocelyn Bartram, getting down low to stop the initial shot and then following up to deny a possible goal off the rebound. Germany pushed for a second goal to try and set up a nervous finish for the Australians, but their slow start proved to be costly as the Hockeyroos finished 3-1 winners.
Player of the Match Jane Claxton said: “Going into this game we knew that Germany had played a succession of really quality games, so we knew we had to put it to them early today.
"I’m not a huge goalscorer, so I was a bit shocked, as you saw from [ the celebration for] the second goal.
We’ve got two really tough games [against Belgium and Netherlands] leading up to the Finals, but I think that will give us great preparation for the Final series.”
The Kookaburras had to fight for it, but in the end were able to overcome a determined Germany 2-1 to secure their place in the finals.
In Eddie Ockenden’s momentous 350th match, the team battled through a difficult first half before goals to Tom Craig and Blake Govers secured the win.
The opening quarter of the match was closely fought, with neither team making major attacking moves, save for an early penalty corner for Australia that forced a good save from Tobias Walter in goal.
A brilliant display of build-up play set Daniel Beale sprinting into a one-on-one with the German goalkeeper in the 21st minute, however the shot was denied by Walter.
In the second quarter, Germany began to provide some dashing runs through the middle and looked to have the Australian defence in trouble, but they were unable to hit the target when it counted.
Johannes Grosse received a ten-minute yellow card for Germany in the 28th minute but Australia were unable to make the most of the numerical advantage in the remainder of the first half, going into the main break with the scores locked at 0-0.
The beginning of the third quarter saw both teams continue to create opportunities to break the game open without making it count on the scoreboard. Australia continued to have the numbers advantage with Grosse off until the 38th minute.
Finally, in the 42nd minute, Tom Craig rifled in a powerful reverse stick shot in to the roof of the net that was too good for the second German keeper Aly following some great lead up play from Corey Weyer.
A 52nd minute penalty corner was well taken by the Australians, whilst Blake Govers’ first shot was blocked he was able to follow up and made sure with his second shot to put the Australians 2-0 up.
Germany replaced their goalkeeper with a field player for the last six minutes of the match looking to capitalise on having an extra field player. They managed to strike late with a goal to Marco Miltkau in the 59th minute, but by then the chances of a comeback were limited by the clock and a determined Kookaburras defence.
Both Aussie teams will take on Belgium in Antwerp on Wednesday.