01 December 2009

2009 ABN-AMRO Hockey Champions Trophy - Men - Melbourne Match 2 - Australia v Korea

Still day one. I hope to completely catch up today.

Coming into this match Australia (Ranked #2) are the defending champions after defeating Spain 4 - 1 in The Netherlands last year and were looking to make their intentions clear to the rest of the competitors. Korea (Ranked #5) have been the team to be careful of in any tournament, they always manage an upset win to keep things interesting. Both teams have a number of new faces for the Champions Trophy and it was set to be interesting match.

The first 17 minutes saw both teams testing each other out with a number of missed opportunities. For Australia Glenn Turner, Grant Schubert and Desi Abbott, who looks like he has dropped about 15 kilos since the last time I saw him were looking really dangerous. For Korea Lee Seung Il and Yoon were the most impressive.
In the 18th minute the Kookaburras move the ball from their 16 after up the right hand side of the field with some quick straight passing through Knowles, then Ockenden to Dwyer who runs the ball to the corner. Dwyer half heartedly passes the ball back to the edge of the circle to Ockenden, Dwyer gets the ball back at the base line five yards from the goal. He then gets an amazing touch from under the Korean defender and slips it to Abbott who's first shot is into the pads of the keeper but it falls back to Abbott and he calmly puts it over the keeper into the net.
The chance is a Dwyer classic from the right hand side baseline. He has a cracking reverse stick shot which the Korean keeper somehow reads and gloves it back to the turf in front of Dwyer which he then fires across the face of the goal and Schubert cannot get a touch and it sails to the other side of the field.
Soon after this in the 18th minute in Orchard and Abbott combine to force a penalty in their attacking right corner. Orchard takes the self pass option and two passes later Abbott has the ball on the baseline, he crosses the ball to the seven and Hammond slaps it into the backboard.
The rest of the half sees Korea stepping it up but The Kookaburra's defense is up to the task with new comers  Matt Swann and Graeme Begbie leading the way.
In the second half Korea came out strong and in the 37th minute they find their striker Kim at the top of the circle who has a strong reverse stick shot and it took an amazing save by Bazeley to keep it out. In the return play Australia move up the right, drop it back past half way and Livermore puts it straight to Dwyer on the 25. Dwyer 1-2 passes it with Abbott on the base line and Dwyer fires it through traffic into the right post.
There was a lot of back and forth for twenty minutes until the next highlight. Ockenden takes the ball from a Korean attacker then runs the ball from 25 to 25 and slaps the ball to Turner who is outside the circle in the left hand corner and he forces Australia's first penalty corner. Australia use the second battery with a a powerful flick from Butterini and the diving to the right glove save from the Korean keeper Lee is pure instinct.
From the resulting long corner Australia transfer the ball back and around and attack from the opposite corner. Kavanagh cross the ball to Eddie Ockenden puts the ball away to wrap it up for the Australian's.

As fast as the past game was this one stepped it up a notch. The new rules really suit the style of play for both teams as they prefer the running the ball with quick passes. For Australia the best thing to take from this was that their young players really stepped up, Swann, Begbie, Abbott, Ockenden and Butterini played fantastic hockey. Korea really put the pressure on and had six shots on goal and it took two fantastic saves from Bazeley to keep them out.

I'm really looking forward to the rest of the tournament.

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