Kookaburras and Great Britain play out FIH Pro League thriller

The Kookaburras have earnt a shootout bonus point victory over Great Britain in an enthralling FIH Pro League encounter in Christchurch after scores were locked 3-3 at full time.

Joel Rintala scored his second hat-trick in a row, including a last minute equaliser, in a game that seemingly had everything before being decided by a shootout that the Kookaburras won 4-2.

The Kookaburras had dominant periods throughout the match but could not shrug off a dogged Great Britain team aiming to continue its unbeaten FIH Pro League run this season.

Just as he did on Anzac Day against New Zealand, Rintala struck early when he won a penalty corner and then converted it with a drag flick that proved too hot for Great Britain goalkeeper James Mazarelo to handle in the 6th minute.

Looking to reverse a 2-1 loss to Great Britain last Sunday, the Kookaburras came out with a high tempo and high intensity, Jack Welch going close to adding a second but his shot was blocked.

A last gasp tackle from Eddie Ockenden denied Great Britain’s first real chance before Kookaburras goalkeeper Andrew Charter positioned himself well to block a Nicholas Bandurak shot with his chest.

The Kookaburras’ willingness was epitomised by 21-year-old Jayden Atkinson taking on and getting the better of three Great Britain players inside his own half.

An instinctive Nathan Ephraums thought he had doubled the advantage when he turned the ball into the net after a fine assist by Ky Willott but it was ruled out after contacting Ephraums on the forearm.

In a typically physical encounter, Great Britain looked for a response and found it when Sam Ward, who scored a hat-trick yesterday against New Zealand, managed to beat Charter.

The Kookaburras survived two Great Britain penalty corners early in the second half before a succession of events swung the game in the Brits’ favour.

A defence splitting pass to Jake Whetton ended with Lachlan Sharp having the chance to smack the ball into an unguarded net but Mazarelo came up with a miraculous save in the 37th minute.

Rather than be ahead, the Kookaburras found themselves behind a minute later when Zach Wallace scored from a rebound after Daniel Beale blocked the initial drag flick on the line.

Two minutes into the last quarter the Kookaburras were back level when class from Aran Zalewski found Rintala in the circle and his ball across was deflected into the back of the net by the stick of Great Britain captain David Ames.

There was more drama in an action-filled last quarter when Ames saved a goal bound Whetton strike off the line before the follow up saw Beale impeded by substitute keeper Oliver Payne to see the Kookaburras awarded a penalty stroke.

Ephraums stepped up but his stroke was saved by Payne as Great Britain somehow managed to stay on level terms.

Rupert Shipperley then beat Kookaburras substitute goalkeeper Johan Durst to put Great Britain back in front as the twists and turns continued.

Kookaburras Head Coach Colin Batch removed Durst with three minutes to go in search of an equaliser.

As the game entered the final 50 seconds, more quick thinking and determination from Zalewski saw him find Rintala who struck his first time shot with aplomb to secure his hat-trick and send the match to a shootout.

Charter returned in goals for the shootout and managed to keep out two Great Britain attempts as Welch, Whetton, Willott and Ephraums all converted to give the Kookaburras the bonus point.

The Kookaburras complete their FIH Pro League ‘mini tournament’ in Christchurch against New Zealand at 12.10pm AEST tomorrow. The match will be LIVE on FOX Sports and Kayo.

Match Details
Great Britain 3
(Ward 24’, Wallace 38’, Shipperley 54’)
Kookaburras 3 (Rintala 5’/48’/60’)
Kookaburras win shootout 4-2
@ Nga Puna Wai Hockey Stadium, Christchurch

Kookaburras: 1.Lachlan Sharp, 7.Nathan Ephraums, 8.Johan Durst (gk), 10.Josh Beltz, 11.Eddie Ockenden, 12.Jake Whetton, 15.Jayden Atkinson, 16.Tim Howard, 17.Aran Zalewski, 20.Ky Willott, 21.Jack Welch, 23.Daniel Beale (c), 26.James Collins, 27.Joel Rintala, 30.Andrew Charter (gk), 33.Hayden Beltz, 36.Anand Gupte, 44.Ben Staines

Team line-ups

Australia Hockey

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