Author: Mitch Wynd
The Kookaburras battled through awful weather late in the game to secure a 2-0 win over world number one Belgium, and cement a first-place finish on the FIH Pro League standings.
A double for Blake Govers won the match that in the early stages was dominated by the two goalkeepers at each end.
Australia got off to an attacking start, and a series of early penalty corners put Belgium on the defensive.
Some athletic saves from Vincent Vanasch denied Blake Govers twice from the penalty corner, getting down very low to his right.
Not to be outdone, Andrew Charter made an incredible save to prevent an almost certain Belgian goal - the cross was set up perfectly for the forward, Charter anticipated the shot beautifully.
The attacking momentum finally paid off for Australia with some brilliant buildup play allowing Blake Govers to score once again.
Another pair of penalty corners forced another save from Vanasch - and a scorching Jeremy Hayward flick had the keeper beaten but not the left post.
After the half time break, Australia continued to attack, comfortably dominating the circle entries (25-7) and shots (7-2).
Belgium were able to win a number of penalty corners, however Australia’s desperate defending frustrated the Belgian forwards who found themselves in dangerous positions but unable to get the equaliser.
Shortly into the final quarter, the rain that had been threatening all night finally made an appearance. A torrential downpour forced the umpires to put a halt to the match.
After a 15-minute delay, the match resumed despite the conditions hardly improving a great deal. Lightning was even visible to the amazement of the crowd.
Both teams found the slippery conditions to be very tricky, but were determined to play out the match in any case.
Belgium unsuccessfully challenged for a penalty corner in the dying minutes, and on the counterattack it was Govers who scored again after Belgium removed their goalkeeper.
The win confirms a top spot finish for the Kookaburras, ahead of their final home-and-away match against the Netherlands on Saturday.
Australia 2 (Govers 19’, 60’)