A storming 13-7 win over Australia in Melbourne, in the early hours of Sunday morning UK time, saw England wrap up a 2-1 series victory over the hosts. The long awaited test series saw the England side draw first blood in what is seen by both sides as the opening shots in the campaign for next summer’s World Cup, in England.
“Australia versus England, in any sport you care to name, is always going to produce a rush of expectation from both sides,” said Jane Powell, English Lacrosse’s Performance Manager. “It is one of the great traditional sporting rivalries and one that neither side wants to loose.
“Following our reorganisation this tour was the first opportunity to see if all the hard work we had put in had paid off. It also provides us with a clear benchmark of where we stand, as a team, just a year out from next year’s World Cup in Guildford.
“While we still have work to do, I think that the series win here has laid down a distinct marker that this England team will be competitive come July 2017. It has been a terrific tour, a significant win, and all the players have stepped up and played their part in securing the series win.”
England had set off for Australia as the clear underdog having not beaten the Australian national side since a friendly in 2009. In fact, the last meeting in competition between the two sides, in the 2013 World Cup, saw Australia come out a comfortable winders 12-6. However, this year’s tourists are a very different kettle of fish with a new development structure, management team and a much refreshed squad.
The squad arrived in Melbourne at the beginning of the month in time to play a series of Australian state sides and a New Zealand XII taking part in the Australian National Championships. Early results were mixed with England overall holding their own, but posting a significant losses against Victoria and a draw against South Australia. Significantly those two teams supply most of the players for the Australian national side.
The test series was played on consecutive days 9th, 10th and 11th June at the Footscray Hockey Club, Melbourne. England set the pace in the first test delivering a convincing 13-7 win and a clear statement of intent that they were here to win. Australia picked up the challenge and levelled the series with a close 9-8 win in the second test.
With all to play for in the final match Australia came out with a barnstorming start, running up an early 5-1 lead before England got a grip on the game. A concerted effort by the tourists saw them claw back the deficit and go on to outscore the Australians 12-2 to win the final match and the series 13-7 – a repeat of the first match score.
England’s next challenge on the road to 2017 will be a match against the current World Champions, the USA on the 2nd July at Surrey Sports Park, Guildford. Jane Powell is looking forward to the challenge. “The game will definitely be exciting and a great showcase for top-level women’s lacrosse,” said Powell. “We hope that lots of fans will be able to come along and support the England team. In return we are looking to put on a performance that will make the fans proud.
“We are Europe’s number one team and the prospect of playing the World Champions is one that we relish. If you want to be the best then you have to compete against the best. Bring it on!”
photos Janos Schmidt