Australia lose Champs Trophy hockey opener

Samuel Ward struck two goals as England shocked five-time defending champion Australia 3-1 in the opening match of the Champions Trophy on Saturday.

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Alastair Brogdon was the other scorer for England, which earned its first ever win over Australia in the tournament.

Penalty-corner specialist Chris Ciriello found the mark for Australia, which has been forced to try out new combinations due to a spate of injuries and a few retirements.

Australia is without attacking midfielder Jamie Dwyer, Mark Knowles, Kieran Govers and Joel Carroll who are all injured, while midfielders Liam de Young and Rob Hammond retired recently.

Coach Graham Reid said England got the jump on the Aussies and it was hard to recover from there.

“We created ourselves enough opportunities to certainly win the game tonight, however we let ourselves down after starting off the match slow with England scoring two easy goals,” he said.

“I thought we turned it around in the second half, controlling the game better and creating more opportunities.

We have lessons to learn and we will refocus for tomorrow night’s game (against Belgium).”

His English counterpart Bobby Crutchley said a lot of the same things after the match.

“I thought we played well but in patches,” Crutchley said. “There is scope for a lot of improvement for us while they tried out quite a few new things since they’re not here with some first-choice players.”

Crutchley also said the pool A result was not a reflection of the sides but just one result in a long tournament.

“We beat them early on in the World Cup in the Netherlands this year but they went on to win the tournament. So I think they’re capable of coming back strongly here,” Crutchley added.

Fifth-ranked England dominated from early on and went ahead in the sixth minute when Brogdon shot in from the top of the circle with a crisp reverse-flick.

The second goal came in the 27th minute through Ward, who scored following an attempt by David Condon off a long pass from Nick Catlin.

Australia got one back through Ciriello in the 54th minute but Ward struck again two minutes later to douse Australia’s hopes.

Both teams played with black armbands in memory of Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes, who died last week after being hit by a bouncer in a domestic game.

Belgium and Pakistan are the other teams in pool A at the eight-team tournament, in which all teams are assured of quarterfinal knockout berths.

The Netherlands, Germany, India and Argentina are in pool B.