Australia see off England for 10th Sultan Azlan Shah title


Ipoh (Malaysia), March 10: Australia regained the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup title after overcoming England 2-1 in the final, while Argentina claimed the bronze medal with a 3-2 win over hosts Malaysia here on Saturday.

Australia took the lead in the 38th minute when Blake Govers fired home from a penalty corner.

Youngster Sharp doubled Australia’s lead in the 53rd minute, scrambling the ball home from close range after skipper Mark Knowles’ initial drag-flick effort was saved.

England ensured the game went down to the wire, when Sam Ward shot past Andrew Charter in the 54th minute but Australia held on to claim their 10th title of this biennial tournament.

“It was a very cautious first half. We got an edge in front of England. They kept on coming and we held on in the end,” Australia coach Colin Batch was quoted as saying by his federation’s website.

Australia won the circles entries count 16-10 along with the shots count seven to four, but the decisive factor was the Kookas’ conversion from penalty corners taking two from three.

Australia finished the tournament, which included Commonwealth Games opponents England, Malaysia and India, with six wins from six games.

Batch added: “It’s not often a team goes through in that capacity because of the quality of the tournament. We’re very pleased with that. It was a typical final, very tough, we’re pleased with the win.”

In the bronze medal play-off, Malaysia fell short of a superlative comeback victory as they came from two-goal down to lose 2-3.

Juan Martín López (1st) and Gonzalo Peillat (11th) gave the 2016 Olympic champions 2-0 lead. Drag-flick specialist Peillat ended as the tournament’s highest scorer with eight strikes.

But Malaysia pulled level, thanks to goals from Joel van Huizen (34th) Faizal Saari (27th). However, the hosts couldn’t force another equaliser after conceding the goal to Pedro Ibarra in the 49th minute.

Asian champions India finished an disappointing fifth after beating Ireland 4-1.