Australia (m) v Wales
Commonwealth Games, Glasgow
AUSTRALIA: 7 (3)
Chris Ciriello 6 (PC)
Kieran Govers 7 (PC)
Jake Whetton 29, 44, 46 (FG, PC, FG)
Matt Gohdes 66, 69 (FG, FG)
WALES: 1 (0)
Dan Kyriakides 50 (FG)
Australia’s men’s hockey team might have been the last to begin their Commonwealth Games campaign but they announced their arrival with a clinical 7-1 win over Wales, underpinned by Jake Whetton’s first ever international hat-trick.
Matt Gohdes’ late double added the shine to the score following two early strikes from penalty corner set-piece specialists Chris Ciriello and Kieran Govers. The margin of victory might have been greater but for a strong display from Welsh goalkeeper David Kettle, and had Mark Knowles’ penalty stroke not come off the post.
Victorian defender Ciriello began the match on the bench but made an immediate impact after coming on as he dispatched a penalty corner low beyond Kettle, remaining calm as his first effort was blocked by a defender. A minute later it was 2-0; from Australia’s second penalty corner Kieran Govers unleashed a drag flick inside the right hand post.
Trent Mitton came close to making it three inside the opening ten minutes but the Welshmen, the tournament’s lowest ranked side, cleared the danger from the goal line. And Kettle then thwarted Matt Gohdes and Mitton to prevent the Australian men from increasing their lead.
Canberra-born goalkeeper Andrew Charter was a spectator for the most part but did well to tip Wales’ only penalty corner around the post with his right foot at full stretch.
When it came, Australia’s third goal was all about great teamwork. Taking a quick free hit, Tristan White found Matthew Swann whose first time deflected pass played in Gohdes along the baseline. His pin point pass found Jake Whetton in the middle with time to trap the ball before firing it home for 3-0.
Two more Kettle saves early in the second half, denying Mitton and Whetton, indicated there would be no let up for the Welsh defence and Whetton made it 4-0 sliding in at the back post to redirect Ciriello’s perfectly weighted pass at the penalty corner. Two minutes later the 23 year-old Queenslander completed his hat-trick as he shot home from close range following good work by Daniel Beale along the baseline.
The biggest cheer of the day came as Wales pulled one back when Dan Kyriakides’ deflected the ball into the Australian goal to make it 5-1 but the world champions still had plenty in the tank. They were denied from four consecutive penalty corners before being awarded a penalty stroke for a foul on Simon Orchard. Captain Mark Knowles stepped up to the spot but as in The Hague at the World Cup, he was unfortunate to be denied by the metalwork as his flick hit the outside of the left post.
A clash of heads between Andy Philpott and Welsh captain Matt Ruxton left the latter requiring treatment before leaving the field with seven minutes remaining.
As the match entered its final five minutes, Matt Gohdes was rewarded for a livewire performance with two goals from close range, the first of which was a carbon copy of Whetton’s second involving a penetrating drive along the baseline from Beale.
Speaking afterwards, hat-trick hero Jake Whetton was pleased with how Australia began the tournament but warned there are still improvements to be made. He said, "I thought we played well in patches. There are a few things to work on but it was pretty good overall.”
And it seems his moustache is set to stay at least two more days. Explaining the facial hair, he said, "I started at the World Cup and said to my physio I would keep it until we didn't win so hopefully it will be staying around."
Chris Ciriello, the scorer of Australia’s opening goal, said afterwards, “It was quite a physical game. They sat back and tried to be physical and tried to play on the counter attack. We pretty much tried to move the ball around as much as we could and take our opportunities. Their goalkeeper played unbelievably. We had a lot of shots and he saved some from point blank range.”
Expressing his pleasure at getting their title defence underway, he added, “It’s been three or four days sitting around the village and watching everyone else play. You can only train so much and you’re still not ready for a game so it was good just to finally get started.”
Australia’s men have a rest day on Sunday before playing South Africa in the first game on Monday at 9am BST / 6pm AEST / 4pm AWST.
Australia’s women return to action on Sunday against hosts Scotland. That match begins at 9am BST / 6pm AEST / 4pm AWST.
Find out more about watching Australia at the Games by visiting our WATCH page.
Visit the Glasgow 2014 website for the latest results and standings from the Commonwealth Games hockey competition.
Australia v Wales
Name (Hometown) Caps/Goals
Daniel Beale (Brisbane, QLD) 29/7
Kiel Brown (Toowoomba, WA) 146/4
Andrew Charter (GK) (Canberra, ACT) 71/0
Matt Gohdes (Rockhampton, QLD) 95/28
Kieran Govers (Wollongong, NSW) 94/49
Mark Knowles (Rockhampton, QLD) 240/40
Eddie Ockenden (Hobart, TAS) 216/54
Simon Orchard (Maitland, NSW) 151/46
Andrew Philpott (Melbourne, VIC) 16/1
Matthew Swann (Mackay, QLD) 108/5
Aran Zalewski (Margaret River, WA) 38/4
Chris Ciriello (Melbourne, VIC) 141/86
Fergus Kavanagh (Geraldton, WA) 185/14
Trent Mitton (Perth, WA) 57/17
Jake Whetton (Brisbane, QLD) 63/28
Tristan White (Wollongong, NSW) 30/2