Kookaburras Glenn Simpson marked his comeback from injury with a goal and Tasmanian Jeremy Edwards netted the first strike of his young international career as the Australia men’s hockey team scored 4-0 over fellow Commonwealth Games finalists India in Perth.
Playing the new four-quarter format, Jeremy Hayward’s powerful penalty corner on the stroke of quarter time gave the Australian men a deserved early lead, doubled 15 minutes later by Jake Whetton. Edwards’ diving goal four minutes into the second half put the match beyond the visitors at 3-0 before Glenn Simpson announced his comeback with a fourth and final goal.
In his first match in charge since succeeding Ric Charlesworth in September, Kookaburras coach Graham Reid called it “a reasonable start”, adding, “We don’t care about the score, it’s about how we’re playing and tonight we were reasonably happy with how we played. There are lots of things we’ve got to work on; our circle efficiency is one of the major things we’re trying to work on and there’s a lot of work there still to do. We still made a lot of opportunities and didn’t finish off so that was a little disappointing but some good efforts.”
The coach said he was happy with the performances of Australia’s three debutants, Matt Dawson, Flynn Ogilvie and Dylan Wotherspoon, adding, “Three guys have started their careers and played well. I was happy enough with them.”
Wotherspoon was involved in Australia’s second goal as he crossed for Whetton’s close range deflection into the roof of the net on the stroke of half time.
Another of the newer faces in the squad, 22 year old Edwards’ diving goal shortly afterwards came as the result of Daniel Beale’s dogged determination in the face of pressure from Indian goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, forcing the ball to break to Edwards. Playing in just his third full international, Edwards launched himself at the ball, forcing it home under the diving goalkeeper.
And there were plenty of cheers for one of Australia’s more experienced faces as Glenn Simpson announced his return to fitness with a flicked penalty corner into the left side of the net to conclude the scoring. The Victorian was cruelly ruled out of the Kookaburras’ World Cup campaign at the 11th hour in June, breaking his ankle in a warm-up match against England.
Speaking after the match, goal scorer Jeremy Edwards said, “It was nice to get on the score sheet. We had a bit of an attacking wave and the ball spilled out, it was loose for a bit and I dived forward and snuck it under the ‘keeper and it rolled in. Good to get on the score sheet but even more pleasing to win 4-0.”
Debutant Matt Dawson said, “[I’m] Pretty happy. [It was a] Good experience to get the first one out of the way and I was pretty happy with how I played.”
Australia’s debutants all received their jerseys in a presentation from former Kookaburras earlier in the day with Dawson receiving his from recently retired double World Cup winner Rob Hammond.
He added, “Rob Hammond, former number six, presented my shirt today so I was pretty happy to receive that from him. Red head to red head so it was pretty exciting. He played for 14 years so that’s the aim, 14 years; hopefully I can stay around for a bit.”
The two teams will go head-to-head again on Wednesday night in the second match of the four game series with two more games on Saturday and Sunday. Both teams are preparing for next month’s Champions Trophy, which starts in Bhubaneswar, Indian, on 6 December.
All of the remaining matches will be live on the Hockey Australia YouTube channel and tickets are available at the gate at Perth Hockey Stadium from 6pm WST/430pm IST each match day.