England battled hard to come out with a respectable 6-12 defeat against a formidable Canada side in their opening match at the 2018 FIL Men’s World Championships.
Hat-tricks for both Curtis Dickson and Jeffrey Teat led the charge for Canada, while Christian Scarpello and Ryan Hunns finished with three points each for England, growing into the contest throughout the duration.
The game opened at a slow tempo with both sides looking to hold ball and dominate possession in the initial stages.
And it was Canada who began to wrest control, with England struggling to clear and gain settled possession, the reigning champions were able to take the opportunities that came their way, Teat with two and Dickson adding one to post a first-quarter 0-3 lead.
Dickson added another shortly after the restart courtesy of a Mark Matthews feed who finished with four assists, before England finally got on the board, Jimmy Yanes finding Scarpello on the crease, getting the step on his man, and finishing.
Canada responded with a quickfire double before an eye-catching second was added by England; Tommy Kirkland pouncing on the loose ball, breaking upfield to Hunns who perfectly found the run of a marauding Ryan Sweetman charging through the middle to finish low to make it 2-6.
Canada went in to the break 7-2 up, but a strong and resilient second-half showing from England was to add an extra spice after the break.
Each side exchanged efforts early in the third, Joshua Byrne for the Canadians and Scarpello, doubling his tally with a classy effort across the ‘keeper into the top corner on the bounce.
Despite Canada continuing to control things throughout the third, England battled away; Will Baxter pulling off several impressive saves between the posts tallying 13 for the match overall at 52%.
In fact, the 12 goals conceded represents the fewest goals conceded to Canada by an England team at the Men’s World Championships since 1974, indeed the last time the English overcame the Canadians at the tournament.
For all the efforts, a sharp three-goal run spanning the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarters had Canada 11-3 to the good with 17 minutes left to play.
However, those 17 minutes would prove a fractious finale, sparked by an incident in the midfield, after a firm check went unpunished, Will Hardy was then penalised himself for an illegal body check, to which the Canadians took exception with two of their players taking penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct, with Brodie Merrill also given an expulsion.
From this moment, England really grasped the mettle, Scarpello proving tricky again, losing his defender to feed Josh Sherry-Brennan for a well-worked goal before Nick Watson finished off an accurate feed from Hunns to bag another.
The physicality of the encounter continued with Canada taking three separate penalties in the closing ten minutes, and when Hunns got himself on the scoresheet with a long-range effort, it was now 6-11 and a routine run out for Canada had become slightly more fraught.
Canada would eventually break the run and add one final goal direct from the resulting face-off, with their noted quality throughout the side ultimately proving the difference.
However, there will be many positives for England to take from this opening pool match and the boys will be looking to build on the performance against the Iroquois Nationals today (Saturday 14 July) at 4.45pm UK Time.
Christian Scarpello (2,1), Ryan Hunns (1,2), Josh Sherry-Brennan (1,0), Ryan Sweetman (1,0), Nick Watson (1,0) James Yanes (0,1)
Jeffrey Teat (3,2) Mark Matthews (1,4) Curtis Dickson (3,1) Josh Byrne (2,0) Tyson Bell (1,0), Latrell Harris (1,0), Jake Withers (1,0)