(Photo: © FIH / Daniel Carson)

Australia and Spain both won one match in a warm-up series for the ABN AMRO Champions Trophy. While the Kookaburras took the first match 8-2, Spain was better in the second clash between the two giants (2-1).

Match 1: Australia-Spain 8:2

Goals – Aus Dwyer 7m FG/ 43m FG/ 45m PC, Esp Ribas 18m PC, Aus Abbott 28m FG, Aus Hammond 30m FG, Aus Doerner 64m PC, Aus Schubert 66m FG, Aus Butturini 69m PC

The Kookaburras have gained revenge over Spain and superstar Jamie Dwyer has reconfirmed his status as one of the worlds best players during game one of their two test series in Perth, defeating Spain 8-2.

In what was their first match against Spain since they were knocked out of the gold medal race at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Kookaburras were determined to come out on top today.

Although the Kookaburras team featured several new comers such as Matthew Swann, Brent Dancer and Glenn Turner, it was veteran Jamie Dwyer who led the way early.

Demonstrating why he has twice been voted as the world player of the year, Dwyer made the most of his opportunity at the seven minute mark when a tackle outside the circle led to a turn over, giving Dwyer and opportunity which he converted with a reverse stick shot from an extremely tight angle.

Despite controlling the early stages of the match, the Kookaburras were unable to extend their lead with an opportunity missed by Des Abbott, while a shot on goal by Glenn Turner travelled right of the goal.

After several opportunities, the Kookaburras were deflated when Spain converted a penalty corner at the 18 minute mark in what was virtually their only real shot on goal to level the score.

Determined to make the most of their good play the Kookaburras continued to attack and while their passing was not always crisp, their attack at the ball resulted in them controlling most of the play in the first half.

Eventually their good work was rewarded when Des Abbott’s deflection beat the goalkeeper after a pass in from Mark Knowles at the 28 minute mark.

With their spirits high the Kookaburras refused to let up and made Spain pay for continually working their ball around the Kookaburras goal. An errant pass led to an interception from Abbott who worked the ball into the circle, drawing out the keeper which allowed Abbott to pass to Rob Hammond to convert an easy goal and set up a commanding half time lead.

In the second half it was Jamie Dwyer who was once again causing headaches of Spain, scoring his second goal of the match at the 43 minute mark, essentially shutting Spain out of the game.

The Olympic gold medalist was essentially unstoppable, scoring again only minutes later after a failed attempt to clear the ball fell into the lap of Dwyer, who made them pay the ultimate price and extend the Kookaburras lead.

From here the flood gates opened, the Kookaburras scoring three more times in the second half thanks to Luke Doerner, Grant Schubert and Matthew Butturini.

A late penalty corner goal to Spain was the only blemish for the Kookaburras. “Obviously you are never quite happy when you have two goals scored against you. We have things to work on, but we were happy with the goals that we put into the back of the net,” said Kookaburras Assistant Coach Graham Reid.

Match 2: Australia-Spain 1:2

Goals – Aus De Young 35m FG, Esp Amat 39m FG, EspLleonart 62m FG

Spain has turned the tables on the Kookaburras after the 8-2 loss, defeating Australia 2-1 in game two of the two match series in Perth.

The goalfest from game one of the series was not replicated in the first half, with both teams having chances but unable to convert early.

After the embarrassing 8-2 thumping suffered the day earlier, Spain emerged as a more focused team in the first ten minutes of play and arguably had the better of the Kookaburras throughout the first half.

Despite Spain looking more dangerous, it was the Kookaburras who generated the first genuine scoring opportunity via a penalty corner at the 13 minute mark. It was a hard flick taken by Luke Doerner, but the Spanish goalkeeper proved too good and produced an impressive save.

Another penalty corner was taken by the Kookaburras minutes later, however Australia was unable to convert.

The pace of the game seemed to only increase as the match progressed, giving both teams a taste of what they can expect next week at the ABN AMRO Hockey Champions Trophy in Melbourne.

As the half continued Spain began generating more and more scoring opportunities, and if not for some heroics on the last line of defence from Mark Knowles, Matthew Swann and the goalkeeping of George Bazeley, Spain could have easily forced their way onto the scoreboard.

However with only seconds remaining in the first half it would be the Kookaburras who scored the first goal, with veteran Liam De Young making no mistakes when left unopposed at the top of the circle.

Spain were eventually rewarded for their hard work early after half time, with Pol Amat scoring the goal of the day at the 39 minute mark to level the score.

It appeared as though the Kookaburras would regain the lead only minutes later when Jamie Dwyer trapped the ball at the top of the circle, however his shot travelled left of the goal as the scores remained tied.

With 15 minutes to go Spain attempted to grab the lead via a penalty corner attempt, which was once again denied by Bazeley in the goals.

However eventually Spain’s continued perseverance proved too strong, with Xavi Lleonart producing an impressive tomahawk shot on goal which travelled to the top right of the net, putting Spain in front.

The Kookaburras were presented with an opportunity to level the score after the full time siren via a penalty corner attempt. However, summing up the Kookaburras night, the ball was mis-trapped, ending the game on a disappointing note for the Kookaburras.

Kookaburras coach Ric Charlesworth said the team still had things to work on leading into next weeks ABN AMRO Hockey Champions Trophy in Melbourne.

”We have a lot of things to repair before next week’s Champions’ Trophy and what it tells me we are not solid and no where near as solid as we can be and I have thought so from the start. This just underlines it and we have a lot of work to do before our first game,” said Charlesworth.

Source: Hockey Australia