HWL: Great Britain shock Australia

The systematic dismantling of Australia was a huge shock to their supporters as well as the team. This was the first time that GB beat Australia by a margin of more than two goals and only their sixth overall. Their last victory over the same rivals in an FIH tournament came way back in 1988 at the Seoul Olympics.

Emmanuel Stockbroekx of Belgian vies with Gabriel Ho-Garcia of Canada during their HWL match at the Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel International Hockey Stadium.   -  Getty Images

Great Britain turned the tables on Australia to register their biggest-ever win over the world champions in an official match with a 5-2 victory in a Pool A match in the Hockey World League Finals here on Sunday.

Taking a leaf out of the book of the world champions, GB attacked from the beginning and took an early lead before strangling the opposition with a tight defence and quick counters. The systematic dismantling of Australia was a huge shock to their supporters as well as the team.

This was the first time that GB beat Australia by a margin of more than two goals and only their sixth overall. Their last victory over the same rivals in an FIH tournament came way back in 1988 at the Seoul Olympics. “I know it is big because I have played against them and we could never score so much,” coach Bobbby Crutchley admitted.

GB went ahead in the ninth minute and doubled the lead four minutes later. The aggression and speed took Australia by surprise but they tried to bounce back in the second quarter.

The Australians had their chances and earned six penalty corners but could convert only one. They also missed a few close chances despite attacking relentlessly. A resolute GB defence stood firm.

Belgium thrash Canada 7-2

Belgium and Canada are separated by seven ranking places, but the Europeans highlighted how vast the gap was in their Pool A match, thrashing Canada 7-2 for their first win in the tournament.

Dominating the game completely in the opening and closing quarters and playing at half intensity in the middle half hour, the Red Lions were all over the hapless Canadians.

Three goals in as many minutes in the first quarter, taking full advantage of Canada’s numerical disadvantage, Belgium were 4-0 up in the first 15 minutes.

Two of them were initiated by Alexander Hendrickx from the 25-yard line to the left and deflected into the goal by alert strikers inside the striking circle even as the Canadian defence was scattered away.

First, Sebastien Dockier took the ball to the left backline and scooped it for Florent van Aubel to direct it in. Then, Thomas Briels received the ball at the penalty spot and deflected it in past a spread-eagled Canadian goalkeeper.

A fifth goal off a penalty corner at the stroke of the first quarter was cancelled after referral.

With a 4-0 cushion, the Belgians knew all they had to do was sit tight and control possession, which they did perfectly. Canada tried to fight back and even got a couple of goals, one each in the second and third quarters, but Belgium was never under pressure.

The Belgians went in search for a few more goals in the last quarter to wrap up victory in style and van Aubel struck his second and the team’s seventh in the last two minutes.

The results:

Pool A: Great Britain 5 (Henry Weir, Chris Grassick, Ian Sloan, David Condon, Phil Roper) bt Australia 2 (Jeremy Hayward, Matt Gohdes); Belgium 7 (Florent van Aubel 2, Sebastien Dockier, Thomas Briels, Jerome Truyens, Arthur van Doren, Tom Boon) bt Canada 2 (Mark Pearson Devohn Noronha Teixeira).

Pool B: The Netherlands 3 (Thierry Brinkman, Severiano van Ass, Roel Bovendeert) beat Argentina 2 (Gonzalo Peillat 2).