Hockey World Cup 2018: Australia rallies to beat Ireland

Australia was relieved to garner full points from its opening engagement after overcoming stiff resistance from the underdog, which fought with purpose and grit.

Australia players celebrate a goal against Ireland in their Hockey World Cup match at the Kalinga Stadium on Friday.   -  AFP

World No. 10 Ireland gave the top-ranked Australia a run for its money before the defending champion managed a 2-1 victory in a gripping Pool B match of the Hockey World Cup at the Kalinga Stadium here on Friday.

Australia was relieved to garner full points from its opening engagement after overcoming stiff resistance from the underdog, which fought with purpose and grit.

As it happened

Excellent coordination and tireless execution of its plans were hallmarks of the Irish team, which tried to have possession and find holes in the Australian defence.

Ireland nearly took an early lead when Sean Murray and Matthew Nelson’s back-to-back attempts were blocked by an alert Andrew Charter under the bar.

However, it was Australia which drew first blood in the 11 minute. A penalty stroke was converted to penalty corner following a video referral and Blake Govers’ blazing drag-flick disturbed the net.

A confident Ireland returned favours soon. Murray supplied the ball up with accuracy and Shane O’Donoghue, who was running surreptitiously, came from nowhere to slot it in.

Ireland’s man-to-man marking, fine interceptions and promptness to win back the ball forced Australia to work hard.

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Corey Weyer’s workmanlike effort to create opportunities helped Kookaburras in the third quarter when his magnificent through ball was shot home by Tim Brand on second attempt with a reverse stick.

Australia explored chances with patience but could not inflict more damage.

Ireland took its captain, goalkeeper David Harte, off in closing moments but could not find the equaliser.

“Things will settle down with time, but it’s going to be a difficult tournament,” said Brand.

Harte picked the positives. “We will take confidence from our performance,” he said.

The results (Pool B): Australia 2 (Govers 11, Brand 34) bt Ireland 1 (O’Donoghue 13).