Clinical Australia get better of Belgium to clinch title.
AFTER Ric Charlesworth stepped down as head coach of the Australian team, the Kookaburras seemed to lose a bit of aura and fear factor to intimidate opponents.
Teams now felt that they could now not only hold their own against the world champions, but could also beat Graham Reid's men.
But the Australians are never down for long as they defeated Belgium 2- 1 to clinch the Hero Hockey World League title, the one crown missing from their overflowing trophy cabinet.
The World No. 1 side was always favourite against the seventh- ranked Belgians, and goals from Jeremy Hayward ( 16th) and Matthew Dawson ( 37th) indicated they will be the team to beat in Rio eight months from now.
Simon Gougnard grabbed a consolation goal for the Belgians off a penalty corner after the final hooter had gone.
It was the first final of a major FIH event for Shane McLeod's side while the battlehardened Aussies are used to such big matches. The Australians dominated for much of the first half and took the lead at the beginning of the second quarter when Hayward got the ball on the left edge of the striking circle, cut inside and found the far top corner of the Vincent Vanasch's goal. The Belgians were struggling to mount any penetrating moves during this phase, and when they managed to threaten the Aussie goal, Tyler Lovell and the back line were up to the task. The task became doubly difficult for Belgium when Dawson slammed home from a penalty corner, off Vanasch's stick.
The two- goal deficit forced the Belgians to be more aggressive. They earned a penalty corner in the third quarter, but Kieran Govers was at hand to clear the danger. Five- time World Player of the Year Jamie Dwyer had been in inspired form throughout the tournament, and he gave another impressive performance in the final, after which he was adjudged the Player of the Tournament.
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