Hockey World League Warm-up: Resurgent Belgium hold Australia 2-2

The Australian men’s hockey team wrapped up their preparatory games for the upcoming FIH Hockey World League semi-finals beginning in Rotterdam from June 13 with a 2-2 draw against 8th ranked Belguim in Antwerp.

The Kookaburras, who are in fine fettle having beaten the Netherlands in their recent two warm-up games, took the lead in the 9th minute when Mark Knowles converted a penalty corner.

The Australians maintained the solitary goal lead at half-time.

Belgium, who have grown in stature as a team in recent times, having finished fifth in the 2012 London Olympics, restored parity early in the second half when Felix Denayer slotted home a short corner.

Eddie Ockenden again gave Australia the lead when he tapped home a Rob Hammond’s shot from the top of the striking circle.

Belgium had thirteen minutes to force a draw or a possible win and had to settle for the former as Florent van Aubel rattled the Australian cage three minutes from the final hooter.

The Kookaburras, ranked number two in the world, eased past the Netherlands 5-2 in the second of the two match Test series.

Aran Zalewski gave the green-and-gold brigade a lot to rejoice about when he scored a fine field goal in the 21st minute.

Eddie Ockenden converted a penalty corner in the 29th minute to make it 2-0.

The Dutch had not even recovered from the second goal that the Kookaburras commiserated their misery, with Russell Ford, making it 3-1 a minute later – it was Ford’s 50th international goal.

Matthew Swann made the scoreline 4-2 in the 49th minute before Trent Mitton put the issue beyond Netherlands six minutes later.

Australia had won the first Test 3-1.

The Kookaburras leaked an own goal before Mark Knowles restored parity in the 38th minute.

Celebrated striker Jamie Dwyer gave Australia the lead in the 45th minute.

The green-and-gold brigade nipped out the insurance goal through their drag-flick expert Chris Ciriello, who converted a set-piece in the 57th minute.

At the Rotterdam semi-final, Australia are pitted alongside Belgium, Spain and France in Pool ‘A’. Pool ‘B’ will feature hosts Netherlands, India, New Zealand and Ireland.

Belgium, coached by top Dutch coach Marc Lammers, are also high on confidence having swept the three Test series against England 3-0, winning the final Test 5-0. The Red Lions had won the second Test 4-1. They won the opening Test 5-3.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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