Three second half goals from Russell Ford (VIC), Jamie Dwyer (QLD) and Chris Cirello (VIC) saw the Kookaburras come from behind to beat the Netherlands 3-1 in their first official practice match ahead of the Rabobank Hockey World League semi-final in Rotterdam.
The Australian men rallied after suffering an early set-back as the Dutch took the lead in the fourth minute, albeit with the aid of a deflection off an Australian stick.
Head Coach Ric Charlesworth admitted afterwards that the opening exchanges had been “scrappy”, saying, “We were pretty scrappy but we’ve only been here a few days. We have recently got our full squad together and we rested [Matthew] Swann and [Kieran] Govers. It was a scrappy game, our skills were not as good as they should be and we trailed at half time, but we were better in the second half.”
Mark Knowles was handed the honour of captaining Australia in his adoptive hometown just days after winning the league title in his final match for Dutch club HC Rotterdam.
Despite not forcing an equaliser in the opening period, the Kookaburras came out with renewed impetus after the break. Russell Ford levelled things shortly after half time as he converted well following a pass from Jamie Dwyer.
And five-time World Player of the Year Dwyer, playing in his 295th match for the Kookaburras, made it 2-1 ten minutes into the second half as he lashed home a first time rebound.
The Dutch had half chances of their own but it was Chris Ciriello who put the game beyond doubt with just over ten minutes of the match remaining. The powerful forward was recently part of the Bloemendaal side that took the Euro Hockey League title and he made no mistake to fire in Australia’s third with a low flick from a penalty corner.
Speaking after the match, goalkeeper Tristan Clemons, who came off the bench at half time, said: “I’d played the Dutch with Australia A last year but this was a totally different game. It was a good game to play in, particularly at their home ground with their supporters.”
Referring to Australia’s golden goal victory over the Netherlands at the Champions Trophy in Melbourne last December, Clemons added, “I think they had some fire in their belly from what happened at the Champions Trophy.”
The match was the first of three warm-up fixtures for the Kookaburras who take on the Netherlands again on Friday (10:00pm AEST) and Belgium on Sunday (9:00pm AEST) in preparation for their assault on the World League semi-final. The tournament, which is a World Cup qualification event, begins in Rotterdam on 13 June with the Kookaburras’ first match against Belgium on Friday 14 June (7:00pm AEST).
AUSTRALIA (MEN) WORLD LEAGUE WARM-UP TOUR
NETHERLANDS 1 (1)
Own Goal 4 (OG)
KOOKABURRAS 3 (0)
Russell Ford 38 (F)
Jamie Dwyer 45 (F)
Chris Ciriello 57 (PC)
Kookaburras Squad v Netherlands, 5 June
(Listed alphabetically by surname)
Name (Hometown, State) Caps/Goals (updated)
Kiel Brown (Perth, WA) 130/3
Joel Carroll (Darwin, NT) 83/2
Andrew Charter (GK) (Canberra, ACT) 41/0
Tim Deavin (Launceston, TAS) 69/3
Russell Ford (Eltham, VIC) 124/49
Rob Hammond (Townsville, QLD) 225/27
Fergus Kavanagh (Geraldton, WA) 162/14
Mark Knowles (Rockhampton, QLD) 210/16
Simon Orchard (Maitland, NSW) 120/39
Jake Whetton (Brisbane, QLD) 32/10
Aran Zalewski (Margaret River, WA) 12/1
Chris Ciriello (Melbourne, VIC) 111/58
Tristan Clemons (GK) (Bunbury, WA) 3/0
Jamie Dwyer (Rockhampton, QLD) 295/186
Matt Gohdes (Rockhampton, QLD) 72/20
Trent Mitton (Perth, WA) 40/13
Eddie Ockenden (Hobart, TAS) 179/47
Glenn Simpson (Melbourne, VIC) 85/14
Did Not Play
Kieran Govers (Wollongong, NSW) 70/31
Matthew Swann (Mackay, QLD) 89/2
Source: Hockey Australia media release
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