Great Britain stun World Champions Australia

Sam Ward celebrates for GB against Australia

GREAT BRITAIN 3 (1)
Sam Ward 7 (FG)
Alastair Brogdon 38 (FG)
Iain Lewers 54 (PC)

AUSTRALIA 1 (1)
Jamie Dwyer 18 (FG)

Great Britain stunned the world champions Australia with an excellent display to take a 3-1 win at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in London. Goals from Sam Ward, Alastair Brogdon and Iain Lewers did the damage despite Jamie Dwyer’s first half equalizer.

Great Britain made a lively start in what was a high-tempo opening quarter. They forced an early penalty corner but Jackson’s drag flick was charged down by Kiel Brown. Three minutes later however they got their reward for their early enterprise as Sam Ward pounced to produce a lovely reverse stick deflection to hand his side the lead. Bobby Crutchley’s team continued the pressure and on nine minutes the ball broke to Chris Griffiths but Andrew Charter was out well to block from close range

With two minutes left in the quarter Australia forced their first penalty corner but Dan Fox charged down Blake Govers’ effort. Kieran Govers’ snapshot moments later was well dealt with by George Pinner and it stayed 1-0 at quarter time.

Australia levelled the scores early in the second quarter. They won the ball high up the pitch and Jamie Dwyer slid in to try and score. Although Pinner saved well the Australia No1 was alive to the situation and stabbed in the rebound. Both sides battled hard to get control of the game but with the teams evenly matched it was hard to say either side had control and it was 1-1 at the break.

Australia dominated the opening exchanges of the second half with Dwyer looking increasingly dangerous. The most capped Australian of all time ran from inside his own half to play in Kieran Govers but Mikey Hoare was there to see off the danger. Dwyer then had a shot of his own, but Pinner stood firm and made a good save. The crowd got their first look at Chris Ciriello’s penalty corners but Barry Middleton on the post did well to divert the effort wide.

With 38 minutes on the clock Great Britain took the lead once more. Tim Whiteman crept forwards down the right and fed the ball inside to Brogdon, he in turn played it to David Condon who delayed before returning the pass to a diving Brogdon who applied the finish from close range.

It could have been 3-1 with a minute left in the quarter as Ward let fly with a rocket strike which cannoned back off the post.

The pace intensified in the final quarter as the two sides battled for the all important next goal. Jacob Whetton spun away from his marker well but his shot flashed wide of the far post. Some lovely combination play between David Ames and Mark Gleghorne had the crowd off their seats but the No30 couldn’t quite apply the finish. It was 3-1 with seven minutes left on the clock. Jackson’s penalty corner was saved by Tyler Lovell but the rebound found its way to Iain Lewers who rifled the ball in via the goalkeeper’s facemask from a tight angle.

Australia withdrew their goalkeeper with three minutes left but GB saw the game out for a famous win to the delight of the home crowd.

Great Britain Head Coach – Bobby Crutchley
“They’re a quality side so it’s always a tough game. I’m very pleased with the result but there were periods of the game where we defended well but also periods of the game where we need to improve as well. Our ball retention could have been better at times but on the whole we can be very happy with our performance.”

“Everyone knows about Sam Ward’s goalscoring, but he actually did some things very well today that people may not have noticed. He’s had to work hard on parts of his game but he’s starting to get to the level we want him to reach and I’m pleased with how he did.”

“We know Australia will get better as they come into the World League competition so although we are happy with the result today we won’t take anything for granted heading into the Olympic Qualifiers.”

See Bobby Crutchley's side this summer as they return to the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre to compete in Unibet EuroHockey Championships 2015. All the information, including how to get tickets can be found at www.eurohockey2015.co.uk.