The Kookaburras could not repeat their dominance from three days earlier as they went down 5-2 to a clinical Netherlands in the FIH Pro League.
Three goals from the home side in the opening quarter had the Kookaburras playing catch up throughout.
Goals from Nathan Ephraums and Jeremy Hayward kept the Australians within touching distance. But despite the Kookaburras having their chances, the Netherlands made theirs count.
There were two changes to the Kookaburras team that recorded a 7-2 win over the Dutch on Friday with Jake Whetton and Dylan Martin coming in for James Collins and Davis Atkin, while goalkeeper Ash Thomas made his first start.
The home side struck first in the 7th minute through a Timo Boers drag flick before Ephraums had the Kookaburras back on level terms three minutes later when he cooly fired home, Tim Brand getting a crucial touch to create the opening. The goal was Ephraums’ sixth of the tournament.
However, stung by conceding seven at home, the Netherlands scored twice in quick succession to lead 3-1 going into the second quarter.
Tom Craig narrowly missed latching on to Jacob Anderson’s pass across the goal face in the 22nd minute.
Hayward then did halve the deficit in the 26th minute with a trademark drag flick to leave the game delicately poised heading into the second half.
Another expert finish from Duco Telgenkamp put the Netherlands back in the driver’s seat in the 36th minute as he sent a tomahawk past Andrew Charter, who replaced Thomas in goal at half time.
Blake Govers and Hayward both had chances from penalty corners in the third quarter but could not convert.
Craig almost caught the Netherlands defence napping early in the last quarter but he could not swat his effort on target over oncoming Netherlands goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak.
When Boers scored his second with another successful drag flick to make it 5-2 the Kookaburras had a mountain in front of them with eight minutes remaining.
Matt Dawson tried his luck from a penalty corner only to see his effort blocked before Govers was again denied with an on target drag flick.
With the Kookaburras chasing the game, gaps started to open up and Charter was called upon to make a couple of late saves.
The Kookaburras continued to ask questions of the Netherlands defence but it was not to be as they now head to Antwerp for two matches against reigning Olympic gold medallists Belgium to conclude their FIH Pro League 2022-23 Season.
“It was a similar lesson to Friday but in reverse…efficiency on one side, inefficiency on the other,” said Craig.
“It goes to show how close the top seven or eight teams in the world are at the moment…an eight goal swing over the two games is a lot.”
“Consistency is the main learning we will take from here. Consistency, efficiency and getting our processes right.”
The FIH Pro League is broadcast LIVE on FOX Sports and Kayo.
Netherlands 5 (Boers 7’/52’, Hoedemakers 12’, Telgenkamp 14’/36’)
Kookaburras 2 (Ephraums 10’, Hayward 26’)
@ Oranje-Rood Stadium, Eindhoven
Kookaburras: 1.Lachlan Sharp, 2.Tom Craig, 4.Jake Harvie, 5.Matthew Dawson, 7.Nathan Ephraums, 9.Jacob Anderson, 10.Josh Beltz, 11.Eddie Ockenden, 12.Jake Whetton, 13.Blake Govers, 14.Dylan Martin, 16.Tim Howard, 20.Ky Willott, 23.Daniel Beale (c), 29.Tim Brand, 30.Andrew Charter (gk), 32.Jeremy Hayward, 49.Ash Thomas (gk)