HWL: Australia beat Olympic champions Argentina to retain crown

Hayward, Govers strike as Kookaburras down Argentina

HWL: Australia beat Olympic champions Argentina to retain crown

Australia soaked up some tremendous late pressure to pip Argentina 2-1 and retain the World League Final title as the tournament came to a fitting end here on Sunday.

Just when the Kookaburras thought they had etched their names on the trophy after Blake Govers scored with two minutes left, Olympic champions Argentina threw the kitchen sink at them by creating three penalty corners to send the sold-out crowd at the Kalinga Stadium into a tizzy.

Ace drag-flicker Gonzalo Peillat, one of the most feared penalty-corner takers in the world, stepped up for the challenge all the three times but Australia keeper Tyler Lovell was up for the test on all occasions, producing rip-roaring saves to ensure the trophy stayed Down Under.

The match between the top sides in the world as well the world and Olympic champions certainly lived upto the billing. It was cagey at the start, then picked up pace towards the middle phase and then finished off on a flourish. Both teams threw heavy attacks at each other in a lung-bursting match but the defenders also stood tall as one struggled to take his eyes off the final.

Australia drew first blood after Jeremy Hayward made no mistake with his penalty corner in the 17th minute. But even before the celebrations could die down, the Argentines hit back when Agustin Bugallo produced a fine deflection off Lucas Vila as volatile coach Carlos Retegui celebrated furiously.

Thereafter both teams kept coming at each other as action shifted from one end to another. While the Aussies were quick in their passing, the Argentines were physical in their approach. It seemed like none would be able to break each other down before Govers struck from a counter-attack.

The Argentines then switched several gears up, unleashing a series of raids at the Kookaburras. But they couldn't find a way past Lovell and the steely Aussie defence.

"It was a brilliant game and that's what you expect between two champion teams," said Aussie skipper Mark Knowles. "We are happy to retain the title."

Result: Australia: 2 (Jeremy Hayward 17th, Blake Govers 58th) bt Argentina: 1 (Agustin Bugallo 18th).

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