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Heroic England defeated by Australia in semi-final thriller

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England 2

Phil Roper (12 FG); Zach Wallace (19PS)

Australia 3

Blake Govers (27 pieces); Jacob Anderson (43 FG); Daniel Beale (50 FG)

England will compete for bronze at the Commonwealth Games after a superb fight from Australia defeated the homeland in a gripping semi-final in Birmingham.

The Kookaburras cleared a two-goal deficit to win 3-2 and secure a place in Monday’s final, while England will face South Africa with the last podium spot at stake.

Phil Roper and a penalty from Zach Wallace gave the host nation a dream start against the world number one.

But Australia showed resilience and a goal from Blake Govers just before half-time kept things tight.

Jacob Anderson and Daniel Beale completed the turnaround, but England can be proud of a heroic performance to a sold-out crowd at the University of Birmingham’s Hockey & Squash Centre.

Even late in the day, they came close to forcing a three-corner penalty shootout late in the game, but Australia held out.

England: Payne (GK), Waller, Wallace, Sloan, Ward, Albery, Roper, Goodfield, Ansell, Condon, Sorsby.

Subscribers: Griffiths, Sloan, Mazarelo, Rushmere, Creed, Bandurak, Calnan.

Match report

Australia hasn’t lost a men’s match at the Commonwealth Games since 1998, but England showed no fear in the early exchanges as they aspired to finish that record.

Stuart Rushmere immediately forced the opening corners and almost gave them the lead, but things went awry a few yards from goal.

But England didn’t have to wait long to cheer up a lively audience.

Roper scored one of the goals of the tournament after being found by a great through ball from Wallace, who managed to strike early and with enough pace to send the ball through Andrew Charters’ legs.

And they didn’t have a second in the second quarter after a penalty corner off an Australian defender bounced off the line.

Trustworthy captain Wallace made no mistake by calmly converting the penalty stroke into a double England lead.

Australia appeared shocked, but found their way back to the score when Govers scored from a penalty corner just before half-time.

England were dealt a blow at the start of the third quarter when Will Calnan was shown yellow for going to the ground as England attacked the Australian circle.

But in his 10-minute absence, his team defended heroically to keep the Kookaburras at bay, with Ollie Payne having little to do in goal.

But just when it looked like England would go into the last quarter with the advantage, Australia showed why they are series winners at the Commonwealths.

A quick move on the field was clinically completed by Anderson when his powerful reverse stick shot defeated Payne and evened the match.

Rhys Smith was close to regaining the lead in the last quarter, but swung and missed when he was well placed in the circle.

Not long after, Beale struck to complete the comeback, with England citing him for failing to stop the ball from the freestyle which was not confirmed by the officials.

England responded by still giving everything they had in the final phase.

The hosts put pressure on the Aussie circle after withdrawing Payne for an extra outfielder, with two specific penalty corners, so they almost saw top scorer Nick Bandurak find the net.

But they couldn’t find the goal that would have forced the shootout and Australia held on to win a thrilling semi-final.

The men will now regroup before facing South Africa on Monday in the bronze medal match.

Feeling inspired to pick up a stick? Follow this link to see what’s happening near you: www.englandhockey.co.uk/play/pickupastick

Want to see some more international action after the Commonwealth Games? Tickets for England’s Women’s Euro Qualifiers in Durham 25-28 August are now on sale.
https://www.englandhockey.co.uk/international/euro-qualifiers-durham-2022

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2/ https://www.englandhockey.co.uk/heroic-england-beaten-by-australia-in-semi-final-thriller

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