Australia came back from two goals down to snatch victory from England in a low-scoring thriller at the World Championships.
England were ahead for much of the contest, including going into the final quarter 6-5 up, but it wasn’t enough as the Aussies clawed themselves in front at the crucial moment to inflict a heart-breaking defeat.
England-Australia match-ups have always been tight, tense affairs and from the off it was evident that this would be no different.
Both teams placed high value on possession, having long, controlled sets in a scoreless first eight minutes where both Will Baxter and his opposite number Ryan Spark were both dominating in goal.
Australia looked to do a lot of their attacking work behind goal, driving from X, and it was Lachlan Walker dodging round from behind who broke the deadlock for Australia.
However, the goal did nothing to alter the flow of the game as Baxter and Spark ended the quarter with six and five saves respectively to finish 0-1 at ¼ time.
England withstood some Australian pressure early in the second with several shots either saved or wide and finally after 25 minutes, England got themselves on the board.
Zac Guy broke the Australian resistance with a nice outside bounce shot low to the ‘keeper’s right, before Ryan Hunns gave the side a 2-1 lead again on the bounce stick side.
Nigel Morton quickly tied the game up for Australia, but increasing Australian indiscipline was presenting England with multiple EMOs and after being allowed time and space to shoot, Hunns doubled his tally with a trademark rifle, top corner to give England a 3-2 half-time lead.
The second-half continued in much the same vein as the first, with England dominating lots of steady offense but not much to show and it was eventually Australia who levelled things, defener Jeffrey Melsopp breaking away to score.
However, England were soon to hit their best patch of the game, pressing in defence and looking more potent in attack, moving the ball at a good pace and going back ahead as Will Hardy got a step on his man to pick out Christian Scarpello on the crease.
This time, provider Hardy turned scorer, after gliding past the defender once again, this time he took on the shot and found the bottom corner on the bounce to put England two-up for the first time in the game.
Australia did respond quickly to halve the deficit, but more free-flowing attacking saw Hunns expertly pick out Nick Watson who had got free on the crease to set restore the advantage.
From the resulting face-off, Tom Brook then made a clean win and drove at goal, taking a shot that was saved and from the resulting loose ball, the England defence found themselves out of position for unmarked Lawerson on the crease to take a long pass and get his second to make it 6-5 at ¾ time.
England had only given away 1.5 penalty minutes up until the fourth quarter but a push call on Tom Bracegirdle presented the Aussies with a man-up early in Q4 , with which they made it count, to tie it up at 6-6.
Possession grew increasingly hard to come by for England and the defensive unit were having to soak up a lot of pressure.
Again, Baxter was called upon to make a couple of big saves, ending the game with 12 saves, but eventually the chances told and Will Pickett found the cut of Mitchell Kennedy to give Australia the lead for the first time since the opening goal.
Australia from then on looked to run down the clock in possession before England made the play to force their hand, doubling the ball and Baxter leaving the goal open, it drew the shot from attack who missed and gave the lads 90 seconds to pull it back.
A number of shots rained in in the closing moments, including one chance for Scarpello that just bounced wide, but unfortunately the goal never came, and England were left to rue what might have been.
England take on USA today at 4pm UK Time, in what is effectively a dead rubber, before the placing games get underway tomorrow with a match-up against the losing side in Israel v Ireland today.
England Points: Ryan Hunns (2,1), Nick Watson (1,1), Will Hardy (1,1), Zac Guy (1,0), Christian Scarpello (1,0)
Australia Points: James Lawerson (2,1), Lachlan Walker (1,1), Jeffrey Melsopp (1,1), Chris Robertson (1,1), Mitchell Kennedy (1,0), Will Pickett (0,1)