Pro League: Kookaburras quartet make debut in narrow loss to world champions’

The Kookaburras have been edged out 1-0 by world champions Germany in the FIH Pro League in Rourkela tonight as Hayden Beltz, Anand Gupte, Ben Staines and Davis Atkin became the latest players to debut for Australia’s iconic national men’s hockey team.

It was a special moment for the quartet as they ran out for their first senior international match in front of a full house at Birsa Munda Stadium against the team that was recently crowned world champions.

Ultimately, an 8th minute strike from Germany’s Malte Hellwig was all that separated the teams in a willing contest, the Kookaburras finishing strongly but unable to snatch an equaliser.

The Kookaburras started the game on the front foot with their midfield press turning possession over multiple times, but it was Germany who created the first clear opening and scored as a powerful hit by Malte Hellwig blasted past Rennie in the Kookaburras goal and struck the top left corner of the backboard giving the world champions the lead.

Australia piled on the pressure but Germany’s defence held strong in their narrow shape inside the circle to keep Australia out as the first quarter came to an end.

Second quarter continued from where the first quarter left off as Australia continued their search for the equaliser but Germany remained disciplined in defence. Australia’s best chance came midway through the quarter as a cross from the right by Collins just required a touch by Ephraums in front of the goal, but the deflection by Ephraums came off his foot instead of stick. Australia won their first penalty corner with 5 minutes left in the half but Danneberg in the goal for Germany, made the save. Jack Welch forced another save out of Danneberg with a powerful hit from the top of the circle and Hinrichs was sharp in gathering the rebound and clearing.

Germany and Australia exchanged chances early in the second half. Bosserhoff’s hit into the circle needed a slight touch from diving Kleinlein but he missed. Australia then had a fantastic opportunity off a German turnover with Sharp getting off a shot from the top of the circle, but Ephraums attempted deflection took the ball away from the goal. The third quarter failed to produce a goal despite the high intensity as Australia’s search for an equaliser and Germany’s search for a cushion continued into the final fifteen minutes.

Australia won a penalty corner with 10 minutes left in the game as Ephraums shot from close range was blocked by Danneberg but the ball got stuck under his leg and Australia had an opportunity. It was Welch who took on the corner but his shot was run down brilliantly by Tom Grambusch.

Australia won another penalty corner a few seconds later, but a fantastic double save by Danneberg continued to frustrate the Kookaburras.

Danneberg continued thwarting Australian attacks, pulling off saves from a drag flick by Gupte and a tomahawk by Marais to keep Germany ahead with 5 minutes left in the game.

With 15 seconds left in the game Australia mustered one final chance through a penalty corner, but Danneberg saved again and earned Germany a win and all three points.

The Kookaburras return to the pitch 24 hours later to take on hosts India at 12.30am AEDT.

The FIH Pro League is broadcast in Australia on FOX Sports, available on Foxtel and Kayo.

Match Details
Kookaburras 0
Germany 1 (Hellwig 8’)
@ Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium, Rourkela

Kookaburras: 1.Lachlan Sharp, 4.Jake Harvie, 7.Nathan Ephraums, 9.Jacob Anderson, 10.Josh Beltz, 11.Eddie Ockenden, 12.Jake Whetton, 16.Tim Howard, 17.Aran Zalewski (c), 18.Ben Rennie (gk), 19.Craig Marais, 21.Jack Welch, 26.James Collins, 33.Hayden Beltz, 36.Anand Gupte, 44.Ben Staines, 48.Davis Atkin
Unused substitute: 8.Johan Durst (gk)

Team Line-ups

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