Honours even between Great Britain and Australia

Simon Mantell scored on the occasion of his 200th international cap. Credit Ian MacNicolGetty images

Australia 2 (1)
Matt Gohdes 11 (FG)
Jamie Dwyer 51 (PC)

Great Britain 2 (1)
Simon Mantell 19 (FG)
Iain Lewers 35 (PC)

A goalkeeping master class from George Pinner secured Great Britain a share of the spoils in the opening match of the three test series with Australia. In conditions more akin to those seen in England, Great Britain led 2-1 thanks to goals from Simon Mantell and Iain Lewers after Matt Gohdes had given Australia the advantage. Jamie Dwyer levelled things up with nine minutes to go before Pinner and the Great Britain defence withstood a late Australian barrage to secure the draw.  

Both sides took a while to get into the game. Australia had more of the ball in the opening exchanges but clear chances were hard to come by. The only real half-chance in the first five minutes fell to Kiel Brown but his shot flashed wide of the near post. Four minutes before the end of the quarter the hosts took the lead. Fergus Kavanagh played a hard hit pass into the circle and Gohdes ghosted in to apply the finishing touch making it 1-0 at quarter time.

Great Britain had the better of the second quarter, enjoying long spells of possession and pushing Australia back into their own half. Four minutes in it was all square. Alan Forsyth played in Ashley Jackson down the left and his pinpoint cross on the backhand was beautifully deflected in by a sliding Mantell. It was a great way to mark the occasion of his 200th international appearance. There were no more goals in the quarter and it was 1-1 at the half time interval.

The sun came out for the third quarter and Australia came out strongly. Jamie Dwyer fed a sliding Tom Craig but Pinner did brilliantly and blocked the chance. Great Britain won the first penalty corner of the match five minutes into the quarter. It wasn’t trapped cleanly but Jackson calmly played the ball across to the back post where Lewers applied the finish to give Bobby Crutchley’s side the lead.

Moments later the Kookaburras won their first penalty corner. Chris Ciriello stepped up but Pinner got down superbly to his right to get a stick on the ball with Dwyer’s rebound going wide. Great Britain exerted more pressure on the hosts but couldn’t find another and it was 2-1 heading into the final quarter.

Australia showed their intent immediately at the start of the final quarter. Gohdes drove forwards from the re-start but some sterling defensive work from Michael Hoare and Barry Middleton kept the hosts at bay. Dwyer had a chance on the turn for a snapshot but once again Hoare bravely intervened, blocking from the Kookaburras’ legend to preserve the lead.

Tristan Clemons was forced into action at the other end but Australia were soon back on the offensive, winning another penalty corner with ten minutes remaining. On the third re-award Trent Mitton’s pass was deflected in by Dwyer. Crutchley’s side countered and Clemons had to be alert to beat away Chris Grassick’s deflection with a fine save. 

The Kookaburras showed no signs of letting up and forced another penalty corner with six minutes left. Ciriello went for goal again and Pinner did well to keep it out before making a stunning stick save from Mark Knowles’ follow up. Ciriello had another penalty corner effort but again Pinner was equal to the task, making a superb save and clearing the danger in the ensuing melee. In the final minute, Gohdes had a gilt-edged opportunity to win the match for his team. The No16 found himself clean through with just Pinner to beat but the goalkeeper was out quickly once more, making a fine block to ensure it was 2-2 at the final whistle.

Head Coach Bobby Crutchley:

"The conditions made hockey very difficult early on. We played our best hockey in the third quarter when we controlled the game, but then performed poorly in the final stages with the ball. However, our deep defending was strong throughout."

Simon Mantell:
“It was a tough game in tough conditions. It rained pretty hard and the pitch was a bit slow. It was a competitive match and it was always going to be. 2-2 was probably a fair result and both teams could have won it but neither could get over the line.

It’s always important to match Australia physically because they are such a strong side. That’s an area where we’ve improved over the last few years. We’re a much more physical side now and we can run hard and use our skills to try and finish games off. Unfortunately we couldn’t quite do it today. The weather doesn’t affect our plans. We go out and try to do our jobs and hopefully it’s enough to win the game.”

The second test in the series is tomorrow at 730am UK time. Matches are being streamed live via Epicentre.tv. For full details on how to watch click here.

These two sides face off again at the Hockey Champions Trophy in London in June. For more details including ticketing information click here.

Great Britain team vs. Australia   

Starting XI

Name

Club

George Pinner

Holcombe

Henry Weir

Wimbledon

Ashley Jackson

Holcombe

Simon Mantell

Reading

Harry Martin

Beeston

Alastair Brogdon

Wimbledon

Mikey Hoare

Wimbledon

Phil Roper

Wimbledon

Barry Middleton

Holcombe

Iain Lewers

Holcombe

Dan Fox

Holcombe

Substitutes used:

Alan Forsyth

Surbiton

Mark Gleghorne

Beeston

Adam Dixon

Beeston

David Condon

East Grinstead

Chris Grassick

Surbiton

David Ames

Beeston