The Hockeyroos began their World League warm-up tour to Europe with a spirited 1-1 draw against Belgium on Saturday. Anna Flanagan was the Hockeyroos heroine, netting a penalty corner two minutes after Belgium had taken the lead just over midway through the second half.
Hockeyroos Head Coach Adam Commens, who previously coached the Belgian national men’s team, was pleased with how his team began the match and said there’s more to come from his side. “We had quite a good first half,” he said. “It was a tough battle against an improving team and we created lots of chances. Belgium played well in the second half, which made it much more even and the draw was probably a fair indication of that.
“We can play better and it’s given us stuff to work on against Germany [Australia play an unofficial practice match against Germany on Sunday] but it’s a reasonable start against a very competitive team. The girls were playing against a European side for the first time in five or six months, which will take some getting used to again.”
Edwina Bone (ACT) and Jane Claxton (SA), both of whom made their senior international debuts in April, were handed the opportunity to face Belgium, while for Madonna Blyth (QLD), the match was the 249th of her Hockeyroos career, taking her to within one of the magic 250. Despite a training mishap that left her with five stitches above her left eyebrow, Jodie Schulz (QLD) started.
Having created a number of opportunities to score in the first half the Hockeyroos were, perhaps, unfortunate to go in level 0-0 at the break. But, it was an improved Belgium that broke the deadlock with 13 minutes remaining, Emilie Sinia applying the finish. The deficit did not last long, however, and Flanagan’s well executed penalty corner two minutes later earned Australia’s women a deserved share of the spoils.
The Hockeyroos will now embark on a series of unofficial practice matches against the likes of Germany, the Netherlands, England and China ahead of their quest for World Cup qualification, which begins with their first World League match on 22 June.
BELGIUM 1-1 (HT: 0-0) HOCKEYROOS
For Belgium: Emilie Sinia 57 (F)
For Hockeyroos: Anna Flanagan 59 (PC)