Author: Mitch Wynd
A lengthy delay and challenging conditions could not stop the Kookaburras from securing a 4-1 victory over the Netherlands in Amstelveen on Saturday.
The match start was delayed by two hours amidst bizarre scenes - the water system at the Wagener Hockey Stadium failed, requiring the local fire department to step in and water the pitch themselves.
That left pitch conditions less than ideal, but it would be the same challenge facing both teams.
Australia won the first penalty corner of the match five minutes into the match, and Blake Govers duly stepped up and converted the opportunity.
The early lead would not last long, however, with the Netherlands also scoring from their first penalty corner through Jip Janssen.
Late in the first quarter, Australia called for a referral after a push inside the circle was waved away by the referee. After review, another penalty corner was awarded where Jeremy Hayward fired in the team’s second goal and reclaimed the lead.
The second quarter saw a series of early penalty corners go Australia’s way, and after his early goal, Govers was in the mood for more - narrowly missing the first, and nailing the second.
Govers’ second goal was also his tenth of the Pro League competition, making him the equal top scorer of the league alongside Spain’s Pau Quemada.
The home side were able to find more of the momentum in the third quarter, however a last-minute referral from Australia was once again successful and led to Hayward scoring his second goal - the fifth goal of the match to come from a penalty corner.
As the match drew to a close, a pair of green cards were given to each team - Sander de Wijn and Tim Brand for the Netherlands and Australia, respectively.
Coach Colin Batch praised his team’s ability to not let the pre-match delay affect them.
“I felt we coped with the two hour delay really well. It was a very sharp warmup, not as long as what we’d normally have, but we started the game pretty well, had a very good first half and established a winning lead at half time,” he said.
“The game was decided on penalty corners. We put four through, and that was a decisive part of the game.
“We’re pleased to be able to get our flickers flicking well, particularly on this surface as it is the pitch we’ll play on for the finals.”
The win has no effect on Australia’s place on the standings, with top spot already secured prior to the match. However, it does mean that Australia will finish at least four points clear of second place.
Australia’s next match will be the semi-final, with the opposing team still to be confirmed.
Australia 4 (Govers 5’, Hayward 14’, Govers 18’, Hayward 45’)
Netherlands 1 (Janssen 7’)