Forward Tom Craig and drag-flicker Jeremy Hayward’s hat-tricks underlined World No.1 Australia’s class in its comprehensive 8-0 victory over France in a Pool-A match on the opening day of the Hockey World Cup at the Kalinga Stadium here on Friday.
Argentina, the 2016 Olympic champion, recorded a hard-earned 1-0 win over a fighting South Africa in the inaugural match of the 15 th edition.
Paying tributes to Australian great Brian Glencross, who passed away last month, by wearing black armbands, the Kookaburras tried to break through the French wall before a beautiful team work, featuring inter-play, resulted in the first goal. Craig capped the fine move with a lovely deflection in the ninth minute to mark the beginning of a typical Aussie onslaught.
Australia relied on its organized approach and united flair to pump in three goals apiece in the second and third quarters to seal the fate of the match.
First Hayward displayed his command over penalty corner conversions, through a rebound and two direct flicks, and then Craig showed his knack of grabbing opportunities to achieve their hat-tricks.
Flynn Ogilvie’s second quarter strike and Tom Wickham’s fourth period goal were important components in Kookaburras’ massive win even without forward Blake Govers, who is recovering from an injury he received in the Test series against India in December.
France, which named the versatile Timothee Clement in the reserves, could not even utilize the seven penalty corners it won.
In the first match, South Africa’s compact defence gave Argentina a run for its money for the first two quarters before the Los Leones managed to score through Maico Casella, who tapped in Lucas Toscani’s shot in the 43 rd minute.
The results: Argentina 1 (Maico Casella 43) bt South Africa 0; Australia 8 (Tom Craig 9, 32, 45; Flynn Ogilvie 27; Jeremy Hayward 27, 29, 39; Tom Wickham 54) bt France 0.