Hockey: England 1 Australia 8
- Credit: Frank Uijlenbroek
England were made to settle for fourth place at a third consecutive World Cup after being heavily beaten by brilliant Australia in the bronze medal match.
Tom Craig’s hat-trick was the standout performance from the world number one outfit, with Jeremy Hayward scoring two late corners in addition to strikes from Blake Govers, Trent Mitton and Tim Brand.
Barry Middleton scored a consolation in a game where Liam Sanford also made his 50th combined international appearance.
And despite a disappointing result, coach Danny Kerry and his players will come home with much to be pleased with.
With European and Commonwealth medals since the 2016 Rio Olympics, a top-four finish at the World Cup and now the FIH Pro League starting in 2019, there is growing confidence among the England and Great Britain men’s squads.
Reflecting on the event as a whole, Kerry said: “When we stuck to our game we competed at this event, but against the leading teams we could not do that consistently enough. We were well punished by Australia for forcing play and turning the ball over. That’s a hard lesson to learn but we will.
“My job is to keep perspective, remind ourselves of what we have done well and be compassionately ruthless in developing our play toward qualifying for the Tokyo Games.
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“We have blooded young players in the toughest of environments and tried to stretch the game of more established players. On a personal level therefore I am already excited about where we go next and how.”
Olympic silver medalists Australia began the game in dominant fashion, Govers seeing a flick deflected over the bar before firing an unstoppable eighth minute shot on the reverse past Harry Gibson.
Seconds later Craig doubled the lead, lifting the ball over Gibson after the keeper had done brilliantly to save the midfielder’s first effort, before the same player started and finished a stunning counter attack in the 19th minute.
Govers also hit the post shortly before half-time but Mitton added to the scoreline with his first of the tournament in the 32nd minute.
Brand and Craig then struck within 13 seconds of each other shortly afterwards, before Middleton struck for the second time in the tournament while he, Mark Gleghorne, David Condon and Luke Taylor all saw second-half efforts saved by Andrew Charter.
Hayward scored two goals from corners in the final three minutes to secure the bronze medal for the Kokkaburras.
Ansell was also taken off injured midway through the final quarter, a sad note on which to end a good tournament for the East Grinstead forward.
England: Gibson, Ames, Gleghorne, Roper (C), Dixon, Middleton, Ansell, Condon, Waller, Gall, Sanford. Subs used: Taylor, Martin, Sloan, Hoare, Calnan, Wallace. Unused sub: Pinner.
*Great Britain men’s next fixture is on Friday January 25 as they travel to Spain for their very first fixture in the new FIH Pro League.
The event sees nine teams travel around the world in a hugely exciting new tournament that is a key part of Olympic qualification.
Great Britain’s next game on home soil is also against Spain on Saturday May 4. Tickets for both men’s and women’s are available now at seetickets.com.