Simon Orchard rams home goal on world stage

MAITLAND’S Simon Orchard scored his maiden Olympic goal as Australia stepped up their quest for hockey gold with a 5-0 trouncing of Spain in London on Wednesday.

Orchard struck in the 29th minute after Matt Ghodes played him into space and put him one on one with Spanish goalkeeper Francisco Cortes, who had no chance of saving the pinpoint finish.

It was the 26-year-old’s 38th goal in his 110th international, and he produced his trademark goal celebration, the Maitland Ram, which he performs in recognition of his junior club.

‘‘It was great,’’ Orchard said after the game. ‘‘I probably could have scored three or four today. I was a bit wasteful in front of goal.

‘‘But awesome. It was a really good pass from Ghodesy and it came off pretty sweet.’’

Orchard said that was ‘‘by far the most special’’ goal of his career.

‘‘You try to score as many goals as you can, but it’s always nice to get one,’’ he said. ‘‘I got the Ram out there, which was the main thing I wanted to do.

‘‘I know everyone’s been waiting for it ... I’ve got some mates from Maitland up in the crowd, which was really cool, and dad’s birthday was yesterday, so that’s a nice little present for him as well.’’

Orchard was a dominant force from the outset, winning Australia a penalty corner in the opening minute.

The Kookaburras, who thrashed South Africa 6-0 in their tournament opener, were in similar ruthless mood against Spain.

They grabbed the ascendancy from the outset, and the only surprise when Russell Ford drew first blood in the ninth minute was that the goal had not come earlier.

Four minutes later, Australia struck another psychological blow when Matthew Butturini made it 2-0.

Orchard’s clinical strike made it 3-0 for the four-time world champions and tournament favourites at half-time.

He almost had a second four minutes into the second period, when a diving deflection after a Glenn Turner pass missed the right-hand post by inches.

Seconds later, Turner made it 4-0 after firing home from close range.

Orchard had another chance in the 55th minute, but Cortes made a brave save with his pads.

He came close to scoring again five minutes from full-time, when a cheeky backhand flick narrowly cleared the crossbar.

Seconds later, Orchard won Australia a penalty corner after he was fouled in front of goal.

Australia made it 5-0 when Eddie Ockenden scored after Orchard teed him up by trapping the ball.

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