Fitzy continues his dual role as player and commentator at the International Masters Hockey tournament in Hong Kong.
Over 45s v Austria:
After having watched Austria put England under lots of pressure and looking like pulling off an unlikely win the Aussie boys were under no illusions that they would be in for a tough match.
European hockey is a very different style to Oz hockey. They like to get as many players behind the ball as possible and play very much a one on one style trying to create overlaps. The Austrian’s (in the older buggers at least) play one very high forward marking the back full back and looking to isolate him as much as possible. The team will look for him hoping for a one on one or a miss-trap, which will see him in the circle playing for a short corner. Then scoring from that short corner. This strategy worked well against the English before the English were able to over run the Austrians in the last few minutes of their match.
The Australian strategy was to have Mick Irby marking the high man with the higher players cutting off the direct line to the high forward. The strategy worked well with Bott having a man of the match performance. However the Austrian defence was proving as tough to penetrate.
Half time score Nil – Nil.
The pace was quite slow but very structured and the second half saw the Aussies putting more pressure on the black and whites. A move down the left starting with Phil Price saw Fitzpatrick with the ball on the baseline. A pass back to Greg Johnson on the top of the circle drew a couple of defenders which left Pete Cummings in 5 yards of space on the left. His shot from 12 metres left the goal keeper with no chance.
The Aussies continued to press but were unable to put the Austrians away. A conceded short corner with 3 minutes left gave a few heart palpitations but we were able to keep them out and come away with a deserved 1 nil win.
We will play the Austrians in one semi on Friday while England will play Hong Kong in the other.
Over 40's Rest Day.
Roving correspodent Fitzy has produced a second report. As always, SUHC players make their mark (wink, wink PB) on the games.
Over 45s v England Test 1
Well the euphoria of the first match was quickly forgotten as a quicker England side scored a reasonably comfortable 2 nil win over the Aussies. It was England’s first match and it showed as they were first to the ball in the first 15 minutes. A one nil score at half time left the Aussies feeling they were still in it and a more competitive second half saw the score remain at 1 nil until the last few minutes when their overlapping right half scored a deflected goal.
The sentiment in the dug out after the match was that we would learn a lot more from our opposition than they would from the game. As there are only four teams in the Over 45 competition a semi and a final will be played Friday and Saturday.
Next game is Wednesday versus Austria
Over 40s v Hong Kong 4 – 0
The Over 40s continued their impressive form with a workmanlike 4 nil win over the hosts. Again the defence was never really threatened and the forwards did enough to ensure another comfortable win.
It is looking like the main opposition will come from the Kiwis who bring a lot of the physical nature of the All Blacks rugby to their hockey and England who are both undefeated to this stage. As this competition is a first past the post system the key games will be played on Thursday and Friday.
Over 40’s v Singapore 5 – 2
The 40’s again jumped their opposition who seem to be a bit overawed when playing the green and gold. 2 soft goals allowed the Singhas to keep a respectable score and a first “yellow” for local boy Paul Barrett despite his protestations “it was a clean tackle sir” marred another convincing win.
Earlier today I received an email from Brian Fitzpatrick, currently playing for the Australian Over 45's in Hong Kong. His report on the first match for the Over 40's and Over 45's is as follows: -
Over 45'sv Hong Kong
After being presented with our shirts the 3 Sydney Uni boys Mick Irby, Phil Price and Brian Fitzpatrick started against the local team. When I say local there were at least 6 different nationalities in the team. Pakistani, Indian, Dutch, South African, Chinese and Hong Kong. (yes, they still call Hong Kong a country – well the expats do if they have their nationality card) all coached by a Kiwi.
Hong Kong set up very deep in defence with most if not all players behind the ball. A Mick Irby short corner conversion settled nerves. However despite having the better of the play Australia were unable to score any more and went into the half up the solitary goal.
The second half proved to be different story. The half time team talk focussed on pushing everybody up higher and making sure you were committing your opposite man and creating the one-twos to eliminate the opposition player. This brought the halves and especially Phil Price more in the game. With a lot of penetrating runs from the halves freeing up the forwards the goals started to flow. 2 to Fitz and others to the forwards saw a final score of 7 nil and a great start to the campaign.
Bring on England.
Over 40's v Ireland.
The youngsters also came up against a disciplined defensive team in Ireland. A similar 11 man defensive wall saw the Aussies struggling to break down the Irish. Even an innocuous tackle by the Irish goalkeeper 18 minutes in which resulted in a dislocated shoulder did not make things any easier as one of their full backs donned the pads. A nil all scoreline was the half time score. The second half followed the same script as the first but a short corner conversion was quickly followed by another which saw the boys up 2 nil and safe. The Irish were unable to penetrate the full back line with Paul Barrett starring with the result the Aussie keepers did not get a touch for the whole game. Another short corner conversion after the final whistle saw a 3 – 0 score to the Aussies. But it was the Irish eyes who seemed to be smiling the most after the game.