Australia dominate

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The Independent Online
England failed to take advantage of disarray in the Australian camp following both a power struggle in which senior players are pressing for the replacement of the coach, Frank Murray, and also the retirement of their captain, the great Warren Birmingham, when they lost 4-1 in the first of their six-match Test series in Perth, writes Bill Colwill.

The series got under way with the Australian Board hearing grievances from the players, who are aiming for the replacement of Murray, probably by the former international striker Terry Walsh, who coached the side in a tournament in New Delhi recently, and who also took charge of Malaysia at last December's World Cup.

Despite all their problems, Australia took just three minutes to open the scoring, Paul Lewis doing the damage just seconds after Chris Mayer had seen a good effort saved by the Australian goalkeeper.

With the game being televised live on Channel Ten and Perth welcoming its first rain for a year, England returned to the attack and equalised in the 10th minute, when Phil McGuire scored from a penalty corner after Bobby Crutchley, who is a favourite with the Australian crowd after his recent appearances and goalscoring feats for Canberra Lakers, had failed to get in his strike.

Three minutes later Stephen Davis put Australia back into the lead and it was Davis, with a brilliantly timed lob, who beat Simon Mason again just before the interval, which arrived with Australia 3-1 up.

The Australian captain, Mark Hager, with a spectacular solo goal in the 56th minute, put the game beyond doubt. A disappointed England manager, David Whittle, said afterwards: "They gave us a lesson in finishing." Whittle was full of praise for Julian Halls in defence and Soma Singh, captaining England for the first time, in midfield.

The teams move this morning to Adelaide for games on Saturday and Monday.

ENGLAND: S Mason (Firebrands); J Halls (Old Loughtonians), P McGuire (Teddington); A Humphrey (Hull), Soma Singh (Southgate, capt), M Sutton (Bournville); J Shaw (Southgate), Kalbir Takher (Cannock); C Mayer (Cannock), D Williams (Havant), B Crutchley (Hounslow). Substitutes: R Thompson (Hounslow), R Davies (Polo Barcelona), J Lee (East Grinstead), B Sharpe (Cannock).

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