USA vs Australia
7 – 5
USA win but Aussies still alive
USA beat hosts Australia 7-5 in the second game of the day in Group A at Sydney Polo Club, but it’s the hosts who still have a chance to qualify for the final if they beat Argentina.
Despite the loss, Australia will need to beat Argentina by 3 ½ goals on Saturday to progress to the final. They will receive a ½ goal start in the game as Argentina field a 15 goal team to their combined handicap of 14.
A dejected looking USA skipper Jesse Bray knew that despite the win his team – who came so close to winning in Chile 2104 – would not make the final because of the goal difference rule. “We needed to win by 3,” he said.
Bray’s team was on track at the midway point of the second chukka. Early goals from USA saw them take a 3-1 lead but Australia bounced back to tie the game at 3-3 after three chukkas and to 4-4 after the fourth.
It was Bray who stepped up to break the deadlock between the two teams with a trademark power play and shot from distance in the fourth chukka. A Felipe Viana penalty gave USA the lead at 6-5 in the final chukka. With a minute remaining USA led by 7-5 after Jimmy Right followed up a Viana surge with a near side neck shot goal.
With a penalty from the centre of field with a minute remaining USA still had a chance, but Australia regained possession and the game finished 7-5.
With so much on the line, the two highest players from each team dominated the game: Jesse Bray (5) and Felipe Viana (5) for USA and Jack Archibald (5) and Jake Daniels (4) for Australia. The latter pair combined well with numerous backhanders finding a teammate, but the team were unable to finish off chances and USA were let off the hook.
Australian coach, Englishman James Harper said: “We started off slow, then got control of the game but didn’t quite finish our chances. We made a lot of chances to go up by maybe one or two. We didn’t quite take those. That kept them in the game and they finished strong.”
As Australia now set their sights on the must-win clash on Saturday, Australia captain Jack Archibald said “Every team is beatable.. We have to be more disciplined and finish the goals.”
“We were going to have to beat Argentina anyway,” said Harper. “The boys are fired up. You don’t get many chances to play in the World Cup in your own country. So they don’t need much motivation there.”
The stage is set for a glorious Aussie back-lash on Saturday. Favourites Argentina will play on the main field for the first time this tournament.