Australia enjoyed a men’s and women’s double over Belgium at the hockey World Cup tournament’s in The Hague on Thursday, with 3-1 and 3-2 victories respectively putting both undefeated Aussie teams top of their groups.
Belgium’s women, who had lost both their previous matches, equalled Anna Flanagan’s opener through Stephanie de Groof on the stroke of half time and Jill Boon replied to Jodie Kenny’s strike immediately after the break.
But Kenny struck again with a 54th minute winner, a penalty shot which only just made it over the line, to put Australia top of the group A and in pole position to reach the semi-finals.
“Why make it convincing, it is far more exciting this way,” said tournament top scorer Flanagan.
In the other women’s games Japan earned their first point of the competition in a 1-1 draw with South Korea and The Netherlands beat New Zealand 2-0.
In the men’s competition Australia moved to the top of pool A thanks to a 3-1 win over Belgium in what was a hard fought game despite the scoreline.
A quickfire blitz from Australia brought goals from Chris Ciriello and Jacob Whetton in the first 10 minutes and another strike from Eddie Ockenden seemed to seal victory just after the interval.
But Belgium, who had won both matches prior to this contest, were not about to give up and pulled a goal back through Sebastian Dockier.
Despite late pressure, Australia held on to make it three wins out of three.
Coach Ric Charlesworth declared himself pleased with the result and his side’s trajectory in the competition while admitting he still expects more from his team.
“I think we had too many lapses, I’m not happy with that. We played maybe two good quarters and two average quarters in the game and I expect more than that,” he said
“I’m very happy with the result because Belgium is a team of high quality and I expected the sort of game that we got.
“We haven’t had, coming into this tournament, the number of matches some other teams have had so we’re perhaps a little bit rusty still but I don’t mind our trajectory.
“The group matches in these tournaments are about fighting for a place in the classification part of the tournament and that’s what our aim is. We still have to do more.”
Earlier England’s men enjoyed a solid 2-0 win over Malaysia, in which their opponents managed only one shot on target in the 70 minutes, and India drew 1-1 against Spain.