Kookaburras win 10th Azlan Shah Cup title
12 March 2018
HOCKEY: The Kookaburras have won the 2018 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup with youngster Lachlan Sharp netting a last quarter goal to secure a 2-1 win over England in Saturday night’s final in Ipoh, Malaysia.
The result secures Australia their 10th Azlan Shah Cup title and provides the side with the perfect preparation ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast next month.
After a cagey first-half, the Kookaburras hit the lead in the 38th minute when Blake Govers fired home from a penalty corner.
Lithgow youngster Sharp doubled Australia’s lead in the 53rd minute, scrambling the ball home from close range after skipper Mark Knowles’ initial effort was saved.
England ensured the game went down to the wire, when Sam Ward shot past Andrew Charter in the 54th minute but Australia held on.
Kookaburras coach Colin Batch said: “It was a very cautious first half. We got an edge in front of England. They kept on coming and we held on in the end.”
Australia won the circles entries count 16-10 along with the shots count seven to four, but the decisive factor was the Kookas’ conversion from penalty corners taking two from three.
The Kookaburras finished the tournament, which included Commonwealth Games opponents England, Malaysia and India, with six wins from six games.
Batch added: “It’s not often a team goes through in that capacity because of the quality of the tournament.
“We’re very pleased with that. It was a typical final, very tough, we’re pleased with the win.”
The first half offered few chances, as Daniel Beale shot wide in the first 15.
Govers broke the deadlock in the 38th minute, before Christopher Griffiths shot marginally wide for England prior to the final break.
Sharp made it 2-0 in the 53rd minute from Australia’s third penalty corner of the evening but England pushed hard with Ward scoring to pile the pressure on.
Australia held on for the victory, which holds the world number one side in good stead ahead of the Comonwealth Games.
Australia 2 (Govers 38’, Sharp 53’)
England 1 (Ward 54’)