Australia hold off world champions Belgium to win inaugural men’s Pro League

©: Frank Uijlenbroek / World Sport Pics

Australia became the first men’s FIH Pro League champs as they beat world champions Belgium 3-2 in Sunday’s final at the Wagener Stadium.

First half goals from Trent Mitton, Flynn Ogilvie and Blake Govers proved to be just enough for the Kookaburras, with late strikes from Loick Luypaert and Alexander Hendrickx setting up a thrilling finish but not quite enough for the brilliant Belgians.

As well as winning the FIH Pro League, Australia have reclaimed their place at the top of the FIH World Rankings. The next rankings update will take place on 8 September 2019, following the completion of the Continental Championships.

The Kookaburras also took a trio of individual awards, with midfielder Aran Zalewski was named Best Player of the FIH Pro League, striker Blake Govers finishing as the Hero Top Scorer (12 goals) and Tyler Lovell taking the Volvo Best Goalkeeper of the FIH Pro Grand Final award.

Belgium’s Tom Boon won the Deloitte Best Goal of the FIH Pro League Grand Final event thanks to his stunning solo effort against the Netherlands in the semi-finals on Friday.

“We’ve played plenty of good teams and it’s great to finish on top”, said Australia goalscorer Flynn Ogilvie.

“We started off red hot by scoring three goals, which was great, but didn’t finish off too well and they showed their class towards the end. It’s been exciting, every game has been interesting. It’s been a quality competition, as shown by this weekend, which has been top class.”

Belgium’s John-John Dohmen said: “I think it was a great second half. We didn’t start really well, Australia were really good tactically and physically in the first half and it was really hard for us. We changed our tactics [in the second half] and started to dominate, but too late at 3-0, it was a bit difficult.”

Earlier in the day, home favourites the Netherlands ended their FIH Pro League campaign on a positive note with a 5-3 triumph over Great Britain in a hugely entertaining 3-4 play-off game.

“I’m pretty happy we got the bronze”, said Netherlands double goal-scorer Jeroen Hertzberger. “At the end of the day it’s not the match we wanted to play, but overall giving this crowd a victory was the only thing we could do. I think we played a fun game, and that was our objective, to have fun today. I did, and I think most of the boys did and we showed some good hockey.”

Ahead of the match, Netherlands captain Billy Bakker received a huge cheer from the fans in recognition of his 200th senior international appearance.