Australia registered a narrow victory over Germany to earn their first win of the FIH Pro League mini-tournament in Rourkela, and second outright win of the 2022/23 season. Jake Whetton and Jack Welch scored the first two goals of the game for Australia in the opening quarter. Gonzalo Peillat pulled one back for Germany before half-time, but there were no further goals in the second half as Australia’s game management and defence came to the forefront.

Australia made a perfect start to the game as Nathan Ephraums received a pass from Welch on the right baseline and a stick check by Tom Grambusch gave the Kookaburras a short corner. Australia couldn’t make it count as a slip at the top of the circle by Gupte let Germany off.

The first German attack nearly resulted in a goal but a crucial stop by Jake Harvie in front of the goal denied the Honamas an opportunity to deflect the ball into the goal. Jack Whetton gave Australia the lead as he collected a pass from Collins on top of the circle and fired a powerful hit that managed to beat Danneberg on his right post. Welch doubled Australia’s lead on the stroke of first quarter break with a powerful drag flick that nestled in between the keeper and the post defender.

Germany nearly produced some magic to pull a goal back as Hinrichs launched an aerial ball from the German 25 all the way into the Australian circle towards Miltkau who had managed to get behind Australian defence. Miltkau attempted to lift the ball over the Australian keeper and into the goal with his first touch, but lifted the ball too high as it sailed over.

Gonzalo Peillat halved the German deficit midway through the second quarter, burying a drag flick low to the keeper’s left. Australia nearly restored their two-goal advantage towards the end of the half as Ben Staines found shooting opportunity in the German circle, but his low shot was smothered by an onrushing Danneberg and Germany managed to clear the rebound.

Australia had the better of the early exchanges in the second half, with the best chance falling to Willott through a deflection on a lifted ball heading towards the German goal which wrong-footed Danneberg, but went just wide of the goal. Germany had their best chance of the quarter through a penalty corner but Gonzalo Peillat’s attempted flick was chased down well by Jake Harvie and while the ball hit his leg, it was above the knee level, hence deemed dangerous.

Australia were reduced to 10 players in the 4th quarter for two minutes as Jake Harvie received a green card for a poor tackle attempt to stop a German counter attack. Germany nearly made it count but a spectacular save by Johan Durst diving to his right stopped a powerful shot by Hellwig. Durst was once again called into action as he pulled off another save from a Gonzalo Peillat penalty corner flick with seven minutes left in the game.

Germany went down to 9 players with 5 minutes left in the game with Bosserhoff and Hinrichs receiving a green and yellow card respectively within seconds of each other. Australia used the advantage to dominate possession in the German half to seal a hard-fought win and take all three points.

Jake Whetton was awarded player of the match and said: “Really tired, that was a tough game against an intense German team. They gave us a really hard time and showed why they are world champions. We know how they play and stuck to our plans which worked out for us today.”