Raipur: World champions Australia lived up to their reputation as they bested Belgium 2-1 in the final to become the champions of the Hero Hockey World League (HWL) Final at the Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel International Stadium here on Sunday.
Jeremy Hayward (16th minute) and Matthew Dawson (37th) scored for Australia, who shrugged off an average performance in the group stage. Simon Gognard pulled one back for Belgium in the 60th minute.
It was a game that Australia controlled the game in every department. They looked hungry from the beginning.
Australia threatened early with Glenn Turner and Simon Orchard pressing hard for the first blood. They did earn two back-to-back penalty corners but the effort of Jeremy Hayward was not up to the mark.
Australia started the second quarter with a fiery onslaught as Hayward made amends for the set-piece misses and fired a blinder that ripped the roof of the net for the first goal in the 16th minute.
Belgium too could have equalised when Sebastian Dockier had only goalkeeper Tyler Lovell to beat but the hit it wide.
Australia, playing a fast game, had another opportunity when Turner crossed for Kieran Govers from the left but the latter was not quick enough to reach for it at the far post as the scorline remained 1-0 a the half-time.
Australia doubled the lead in the 37th minute as Turned played to the foot of a defender and earned a penalty corner that was successfully converted by young Dawson.
Australia pressed further and almost got the third goal but for a goal-line save from Emmanuel Stockbroekx for minutes from the close of the third and penultimate quarter.
Belgium got a opportunity to pull one back but Australian goalkeeper Lovell denied a brilliant flick from Loick Lupayert to help his side maintain the two-goal advantage.
Later, Belgium threw everything at the Australian defence but the latter’s experienced defenders — Mark Knowles (275 caps), Fergus Kavanagh (216 caps) — were alert enough. Hayward also played a crucial role.
Belgium were desperate for the first goal and they did in the final play of the match. Gougnard converted a penalty corner in the 60th minute but it hardly dimmed Australia’s show.