Kookaburras early lead not enough to halt late Argentina resurgence

Published Fri 31 May 2024

The Kookaburras have been dealt a narrow loss on day two of the Antwerp stage at the FIH Pro League in Europe. 
Bouncing back less than 24 hours after their 5-1 loss to Belgium on Wednesday, the largely unbeaten Kookaburras took to the pitch ready to regain their winning confidence against the world number 7's.
Within just a few minutes of taking the field, NSW's Tim Brand ensured Australia would take the early lead.
With a fantastic drive down the right-hand side, Jake Harvie and Flynn Ogilvie drove the ball across the face of the goal where Tim was poised on the back post for the finish.
Taking an early one-goal lead, the Kookaburras carried that momentum into the second and at half time they remained a goal up.
But in the third, Argentina got the better of Australia and made them pay off the first penalty corner. Sensing their opportunity, it wasn't long before Argentina seized their moment and scored, taking the lead for the first time in the match.
By the fourth, it was all Australia, as they hunted the equaliser in a desperate bid to send the game to a shootout.
A yellow card to Argentinian Nicolas Keenan right on the stroke of full-time would be a little too late for the Kookaburras, forced to take their second loss in less than 48 hours.
Queensland defender Corey Weyer says the last two matches have been a timely wake-up call given they've had many more wins than losses this year.
"It's definitely not the result we're after but they always say you learn more from a loss than a win," Corey said post-match. 

"We'd rather have those losses now when we get the learnings than a quarter-final in the Olympics or a must-win game that ends our campaign early. It's good to get it out of the way now, I suppose, as long as we learn from it, which we will."
Making the most of his opportunity is Tasmania's Hayden Beltz, who got his first start since his swift call-up to the Kookaburras squad.

"That's the first time I've played Argentina," Hayden said post-match. 
"They have a very different style of play, they're very skilful in the circle and get the ball up and around your feet, so for me, it's about how well I can defend in the circle and that's something I think I'm reasonably good at and I've been working really hard to improve, so it was a good test for me."
"I'm nervous every time I go out there but I think if you're not nervous then you don't care enough... and I'm excited, you don't really get these opportunities often and I'm just trying to make the most of it."
The Kookaburras have a day off to rest and recover before they face Argentina and Belgium again on Saturday and Sunday. 

Kookaburras v Argentina
Kookaburras: 1 (Tim Brand 7' (FG))
Argentina: 2 (Nicolas Della Torre 31' (PC), Lucas Toscani 40' (FG)) 
In Antwerp, Belgium
1. Lachlan Sharp, 2. Tom Craig, 3. Corey Weyer, 4. Jake Harvie, 7. Nathan Ephraums, 8. Johan Durst (gk), 20. Ky Willott, 22. Flynn Ogilvie, 23. Daniel Beale, 32. Jeremy Hayward, 33. Hayden Beltz, 5. Tom Wickham, 1. Joshua Beltz, 13. Blake Govers, 16. Tim Howard, 17. Aran Zalewski (c), 29. Tim Brand, 30. Andrew Charter (gk)