Sun, 29 Jan 2023

Rourkela (Odisha) [India], January 20 (ANI): Blake Govers had a day out in Rourkela as Australia clinched a resounding 9-2 victory over South Africa to cement the top spot in Pool A and secure direct qualification to the World Cup quarter-finals.

The 26-year-old scored four goals, all of which came in a stunning first 20 minutes, to take his already phenomenal goals tally to 126 goals from 133 internationals.

With Tim Howard playing his 100th international match, the Kookaburras feasted on the space and time afforded to them by South Africa, particularly in the first half, with Tom Craig, Jake Harvie, Daniel Beale, Jeremy Hayward and Tim Brand all joining Govers on the score sheet.

The lopsided encounter started evenly enough as Govers' 4th-minute opener was equalized four minutes later when Nqobile Ntuli fired a shot through the legs of Aussie keeper Andrew Charter.

However, six goals by the Australians in a scintillating 20-minute spell effectively ended the game as a contest.

Craig started the onslaught when he hammered home a tomahawk after a barnstorming run into the attacking circle.

Govers then had his second when his superbly executed drag flick beat the South Africa defender guarding the post just before the end of the first quarter.

The awarding of a penalty stroke gave Govers the chance to have a hat-trick inside the opening 19 minutes, an opportunity he took with aplomb.

A minute later he scored his fourth when Beale did well to direct a bobbling ball intentionally towards Govers who hit it the first time, angling it past Gowan Jones in the South Africa goal.

South Africa were then awarded their own penalty stroke when a ball into the circle struck the back of Matt Dawson's stick, however, Charter produced an exceptional stick save high to his right.

The miss proved costly for the South Africans as Brand and Harvie combined for the latter to score and make it 6-1.

Beale added a seventh goal just before halftime in what was the 100th goal scored at the tournament before Hayward joined in two minutes after halftime with his fifth goal of the World Cup courtesy of a trademark drag flick.

Brand became the Kookaburras' sixth goal scorer when he made it 9-1 in the 47th minute as the heat and humidity started to take their toll.

South Africa scored a late consolation through a stunning tomahawk strike from Tevin Kok, but it was the job done for the Australian side as they look ahead to a knockout quarter-final in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday, January 24.

"It feels good to get that top spot and have maximum time to get ready for a quarter-final. It was a good start to the game. When you get an easy touch like that for the first goal it kind of flowed on from there. I probably should have got a few more but will have to settle on four. Reflecting on the performance, I think we can take out how quickly we can be dominant and maintain it. Then when do we keep going and when do we stop and start holding onto possession a bit more to make it a bit easier on our legs," said Govers, as quoted by the Australian Hockey website. (ANI)

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