China goalkeeper Rong Yao Yan foils an attempt by Australia's Jamie Dwyer during their Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey match in Ipoh on Thursday. Australian won 7-0. - SAIFUL BAHRI
IPOH: Rookie Nicholas Budgeon stole the show with a hat-trick of penalty corner goals to steer defending champions Australia to a 7-0 trouncing of China in the opening match of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup here.
Just before the match began at the Azlan Shah Stadium on Thursday, two Australian players – Eddie Ockenden and Glenn Simpson – were presented with mementoes by their coach Ric Charlesworth for making their 200th and 100th international appearances respectively.
World No. 25 China, who are making their debut in the 23rd edition of the tournament, were simply outclassed in every department by the top-ranked Australians.
Twenty-six-year-old defender Budgeon, with just 15 international caps to his name, was on target in the third, 56th and 65th minutes.
Trent Mitton (20th), Jamie Dwyer (34th), Jacob Whetton (37th) and Russell Ford (47th) netted the other goals for Australia.
China earned just one penalty corner in the whole match but failed to convert it in the 40th minute.
Charlesworth said that his players were a bit rusty despite the handsome win.
“There was a lack of combination as some of them have just returned from India after playing in the India Hockey League.
“It will take us a few more weeks before the players are able to combine well,” said Charlesworth, who was unhappy with the pitch condition.
“The pitch is bouncy and my players had problems getting used to it. We were not sure of China’s strength as we have not played them for quite some time.
“But we knew that they are a fit and fast side ... although surprisingly they did not create many scoring chances,” added Charlesworth, who was happy with Budgeon’s display.
“I rested our main penalty corner flicker Chris Ciriello and Budgeon did well to score a hat-trick.”
Australia will have a three-day break before they take on Canada on Sunday.