Hockeyroos go down to Belgium in nail-biting penalty shootout loss

Published Thu 30 May 2024

The Hockeyroos have gone down to Belgium in a nail-biting, high-pressure match, fitting for a pre-Olympic test between the world number 4 and 5 ranked sides on the world FIH standings.

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The Hockeyroos knew there would be no warming into this campaign, as Season 5 of the FIH Pro League coincides with the final chance to showcase talent before Olympic selection for all teams. 

And they came out firing, Australia finding themselves with a chance in the circle and Rebecca Greiner's tidy pass through the legs of the Belgium defender opened up a gap for South Australia's Jane Claxton and she slotted it, straight into the back right of the net. 

Holding the lead and the early advantage, the Hockeyroos continued to put the pressure on Belgium but in the second the hosts earned a penalty stroke and Stephanie Vanden Borre took her shot, levelling the score 1-1.

Belgium carried that momentum past the half and into the third quarter, with neither side able to break the deadlock. 

A fantastic block by Amy Lawton saw Australia save the scoreline in a crucial moment of the match and by the fourth, it would land on Darwin's Brooke Peris to put Australia on top. 

As the Aussie fans in the crowd cheered and the clock ticked down, it appeared it was a win for the Hockeyroos first up, but the Belgium crowd got behind their team and with just 25 seconds remaining on the clock, Belgium scored a penalty corner. 

Two crucial saves by Hockeyroos goalkeeper Jocelyn Bartram almost saved the win, but Alex Gernier's powerful strike on the third attempt found the net, sending both sides to a penalty shootout.

It was a similar story in the shootout, with both sides unable to take the victory after the first 5 strokes and for the Hockeyroos, two shots bounced off the left post denying them the all-important win. 

As it came down to a stroke-for-stroke and both sides had two in the bag, Belgium grabbed their chance first, finding the net and throwing their hands up in celebration, thanking the home crowd.  

A disappointed Hockeyroos skipper, Kaitlin Nobbs reflected on the loss post-match.

"It was a really hard-fought game and I really thought we had them at the end there, but it wasn't meant to be and I look forward to playing them again," the NSW's defender said.

Admitting it was a great starting point for the Hockeyroos, Nobbs is calling for more consistency heading into what will be a hard-fought match tomorrow afternoon against world number two Argentina and is relishing her opportunity as captain.

"I love it! We've got a leadership group of four, so it doesn't come around that often and I really cherish the moment when I get to lead the girls. 

"Our key message leading into the game tomorrow is to focus, and not go away from our game plan, let's keep focusing and just getting a few more goals than the opposition."

The Hockeyroos face a swift turnaround with back-to-back matches when they take on World number two Argentina tomorrow at 10:15pm AEST.

Match Details
Hockeyroos v Belgium

Hockeyroos: 2 (Jane Claxton 8', Brooke Peris 58')

Belgium: 2 (Stephanie Vanden Borre 19', Alex Gerniers 60')

In Antwerp, Belgium

Hockeyroos: 2. Rosie Malone, 3. Brooke Peris, 5. Grace Young, 6. Penny Squibb, 13. Hattie Shand, 14. Stephanie Kershaw, 15. Kaitlin Nobbs (c), 18. Jane Claxton, 19. Jocelyn Bartram (gk), 20. Karri Somerville, 29. Rebecca Greiner, 1. Claire Colwill, 4. Amy Lawton, 7. Aleisha Power, 8. Maddi Brooks, 12. Greta Hayes, 17. Lucy Sharman, 21. Renee Taylor