Kookaburras claim top spot after seventh straight win
6 May 2019
HOCKEY: The Kookaburras have soared into top spot on the FIH Pro League standings after they recorded their seventh consecutive victory with a 2-1 win over Argentina in from a sell-out Buenos Aires crowd on Sunday morning (AEST).
Blake Govers (15’) and Corey Weyer (40’) scored Australia’s goals, before Maico Casella (52’) pulled back a final quarter goal to ensure a tense finale.
Argentina will rue an overturned Matias Paredes goal which would have levelled the match in the 37th minute from a penalty corner.
The Kookaburras won all of the key statistics, including 55-45 per cent possession, 11-3 shots, 20-14 circle entries and 4-2 penalty corners.
Australia dominated for most of the match but Argentina’s late rally tested the Kookaburras defence who stayed calm under pressure.
The result sees Australia leapfrog both Belgium and Great Britain into top spot in the standings, ahead of the side’s European leg of matches in June.
Young defender Jake Harvie was named Player of the Match and said: “We've got lots to work on but it was a good performance. We all defend as one and everyone played their part.”
Earlier, Argentina had the first chance of the game with goalkeeper Tyler Lovell saving well, before the Kookaburras took the lead late in the opening stanza.
Wollongong forward Govers powered home a drag flick in trademark fashion, netting his fourth goal of the FIH Pro League campaign.
Australia almost had a second goal early in the second quarter after a goalmouth scramble, before Jake Whetton scooped marginally wide in the 27th minute.
Argentina goalkeeper Juan Vivaldi made a good save to deny Daniel Beale, after some brilliant skill from the Queensland in the 34th minute.
Vivaldi also thwarted Govers with a low save moments later, while Casella missed a golden opportunity down the other end for Los Leones.
In a significant moment of the game, Argentina thought they’d levelled in the 37th minute when Paredes rifled home from a rebound at a short corner.
However, Argentina’s goal was overturned after an umpire’s referral revealed the ball hadn’t left the circle following the trap to Pedro Ibarra’s flick.
Australia doubled their advantage three minutes later when Aaron Kleinschmidt found Lachlan Sharp inside the D. Sharp’s shot was parried by Vivaldi into Weyer’s path and he slapped it home.
Lovell made a good save from another Casella effort to maintain Australia’s advantage, but the Argentine broke through in the 52nd minute.
Casella deflected past Lovell from a hopeful diagonal ball into the box from Juan Lopez.
Argentina pressed late on, removing Vivaldi for an outfield player, but Australia got the job done to continue their winning run ahead of their next FIH Pro League match against Great Britain in London on June 9.
The Kookaburras will warm up for the European leg with a two-match Test series against India in Perth on May 15 and May 17.
The Australian Hockeyroos also took on the Argentinian side, but the Aussie women suffered a dramatic 3-1 shooutout defeat, putting their FIH Pro League top four hopes in jeopardy.
Maddy Fitzpatrick scored for Australia, but the hosts responded within the first 20 minutes of the game. Scores remained level throughout regulation time, sending the match into a shootout, where Agentina emerged victorious.