Australia and South Africa might be neck-and-neck on the cricket field, but on astro-turf, the men from Down Under are miles ahead.
The unrelenting pressure created by one of the best hockey-playing nations started soon after the national anthems were played and ended with the final hooter. In the intervening 70 minutes — and the restive 10-minute break — Australia slammed a record 12 goals to win their second match on the trot in Pool B of the FIH World Cup at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium.
Lessons are meant to be stored in the memory, not forgotten. But the Proteas perhaps forgot the 10-0 drubbing at the 2008 Olympic Games. Julian Hykes' full-blooded reverse-hit from the right in the opening moments gave an indication that SA were willing to fight — and punch hard.
Unfortunately, that was the only attempt — adequately palmed away by Nathan Burgers.
Meeting on the World Cup stage for the first time, it was Australia's Luke Doerner who took over after that effort. With the drag flick specialist more than willing to take the offerings, it was but a matter of time before SA's hunt for goals ended and Australia's craving for the net touched a new high.
Doerner slammed a total of five goals on Thursday — four off penalty-corners and a field goal — to go past his more illustrious compatriot from the Netherlands, Taeke Taekema. Doerner now has six goals in the tournament as compared to Taekema's four.
But more than the records, it was aggression — and a desire to annihilate — that was all too evident in Australia's spotless performance. After Doerner had netted the opening goal in the 16th minute, a fast-paced counter-attack initiated by skipper Jamie Dwyer set up Glenn Turner who slotted home with ease. With the score-line reading 5-0 at the break, an Oz victory was assured — but the record wasn't. That came in the second half, but by then, the Australians were not rejoicing, they were just going through the paces. For the record, South Africa have conceded 22 goals in three matches, and are the only team still to collect their first points in the World Cup.