Ric Charlesworth’s men swept aside the challenge of Argentina to set up the dream final between Australia and the Netherlands with a powerful display of clinical penalty corners and solid defending.
A brace from Jeremy Hayward and further strikes from Kieran Govers, Jake Whetton and Chris Ciriello did the damage before Gonzalo Pelliat notched a trademark penalty corner as a consolation.
As they have done so often in this competition, the Kookaburras got off to a flying start as Govers found the corner with a precise drag flick in the fourth minute, giving Juan Manuel Vivaldi no chance. Matthew Swann blazed a bouncing ball not far wide of the goal and Vivaldi did well to keep out Matthew Gohdes but it wasn’t long before Australia had their second. With 22 minutes on the clock another penalty corner did the damage as Hayward’s powerful low flick found the net via Vivaldi’s foot.
With two minutes to go to the break, Mark Knowles, recovered from being stretchered off in the pool stages against India, played a diagonal pass into the D. Whetton, one of The Top of the D’s ones to watch, showed a great first touch before firing home on the reverse giving the goalkeeper no chance for a splendid goal.
14 minutes after the break Ciriello gave another penalty corner masterclass as the Australians made it 4-0 and Argentina were in danger of sinking without a trace.
Hayward deceived the goalkeeper with another corner six minutes later, sending Vivalid to his right and flicking to the left to make it 5-0. With all this penalty corner excellence on display it was perhaps fitting that one of the stars of the tournament had the last word as Pelliat beat the goalkeeper with a searing drag flick into the corner with 12 minutes remaining.
Ric Charlesworth, the Australia coach was pleased with his side’s efforts, saying:
“We played a really solid first half and scored a couple of corners which was a boost. Second half we controlled the game and the ball and I was happy with that. We lost some control towards the end but overall I was happy. We nullified their threat and were able to do our thing.”
On the “dream final” with the Dutch he said: “I don’t care who play in the final. My job is to get Australia there, which I’ve done. The Dutch have earned the right to be there and they are a great side. It should be a great match.”
Both countries will contest the men’s and the women’s finals in what promises to be a spectacular weekend of action.