Wales men sailed to victory in their first match of the Commonwealth Games, beating Canada 5-1 at the University of Birmingham.
Dominating from the start, Wales created chances from the outset with shots from James Carson, Ben Francis, and a missed penalty corner from Gareth Furlong all in the first ten minutes of play.
Their passion and determination were soon answered when a classic penalty corner drag flick from Gareth Furlong put Wales on the score board.
The attacks from Wales kept coming as a shot from Hywel Jones hit the post and a second from Francis was saved. However, Wales didn’t have to wait long for their second as Furlong scored again in the 12th minute.
Wrapping up the first quarter in style, Furlong made it a hat-trick off the back of another penalty corner for Wales.
The second quarter saw several chances for Canada. Their first penalty corner of the game was spectacularly saved by Welsh goalie Toby Reynolds -Cotterill just before half-time.
Wales continued to create chances in the second half. A shot from Steve Kelly went wide before two penalty corner chances – the first from Ioan Wall was saved by a Canadian player, and the second from James Carson hit the post.
More shots on goal followed from Kelley and Carson, but it was newbie Gareth Griffiths who secured the fourth goal of the game, marking his second international goal for Wales in his eighth appearance.
In the final quarter, a fourth and final goal from Gareth Furlong via another penalty corner saw Wales ease to victory.
It was Canada, however, who had the last say of the game with a stunning goal from Matthew Sarmento in the 59th minute denying Wales a clean sheet.
After the game, Furlong said “Preparations have been intense so we’re really happy to have come out and delivered like that. We do all our homework so it’s just about executing it on the pitch. All our background work as a team has really paid off.”
Reflecting on his first match in his first Commonwealth Games, Griffiths said “I’ve never played in front of such a big crowd, and I absolutely loved it. To start in that manner, to put our foot down and to assert our authority – it’s a great start to the tournament.”
Wales men go again Sunday against hosts England. England got their Commonwealth Games off to an equally good start yesterday with a 6-0 win over Ghana.