Kookaburras down plucky Malaysia 5-2
AUSTRALIA will take momentum into its crucial Darwin International Hockey Open fixture against Argentina tonight following a 5-2 win over a plucky Malaysia.
The Kookaburras were always in control of Wednesday night's Marrara encounter, hitting out to a 2-0 lead in the first quarter thanks to strikes from Dylan Wotherspoon and Tom Craig.
But the Speedy Tigers fought to the very end and deserved their two goals, which came through Haziq Samsul and Firhan Ashari in the second and fourth quarters, respectively.
Jeremy Hayward, who played a commanding role in the centre of the Kookaburras' backline, said it was a solid start from the hosts, who can consolidate first spot with a win today against the Olympic champions.
"(Malaysia) were good on the counter attack, and got us a couple of times for their two goals, but we controlled the game for most of it," the Darwin product said.
"There are big areas where we can improve and we're looking forward to doing that. We'll go back, have a good sleep and get ready for Argentina."
The Kookaburras took only eight minutes to net their first. Having caught Fitri Shari in central midfield, Wotherspoon busted forward before shooting and scoring thanks to a deflection.
Craig's goal came three minutes later, following a classy move down the right flank, initiated by Jake Harvey with involvement from Wotherspoon.
Malaysia hit back three minutes into the second term, when Samsul received luck from a deflected shot.
But the Kookaburras restored their two-goal cushion, two minutes into the third quarter when Matthew Swann linked up with Jacob Anderson in front of goal, before Jack Welch hit home less than 120 seconds later to make it 4-1.
Malaysia never let up though, and nabbed a second through Ashari, although a long-range strike with 25 seconds to play from Tim Brand made sure Australia finished with momentum.
In yesterday's other fixture, Argentina survived a scare from Japan to win 2-1.