Australia produced a spirited performance to register a narrow 3-2 victory over gutsy Japan in their opening match of the 10the edition of the Sultan of Johor Cup at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium today in Johor Baru.

Jack Holland struck the first goal in the 15th minute via a field goal, driving a powerful shot past goalkeeper Takeya Ishida into the right corner of the goalmouth.

The Burras upped the ante seven minutes later when Joshua Brooks scored from a penalty stroke.

Japan, who last played Australia in the 2018 edition and suffered a 6-1 defeat to finish fourth, bounced back in the 36th minute from a field goal by Yu Imamatsu.

The young Japanese side who lack international exposure as all other teams due to Covid-18 pandemic, absorbed some early pressure from the Australians in the third quarter but could not hold the Aussies back for long.

The Australians were awarded a penalty corner in the 43rd minute and defender Burns Cooper gladly tucked the ball into the net to go up 3-1. The Japanese, however, pulled a goal back in the 59th minute through Ikumi Saeki’s penalty corner strike as they went down 2-3 against the Burras in an exciting encounter.

Cooper was awarded Man of The Match medal.

Japan head coach Hiroki Watanabe said he is excited by the inspiring performance by his players.

“I hope this first match has driven the players to perform greater heights in the SOJC, especially against Great Britain in our next match. Overall, I am happy with our performance,” said Hiroki.

Australian head coach Jay Stacy echoed that there were patchy moments of good show and there is a lot of polishing to be done.

“We play Malaysia on Sunday and we can learn and improve from our 4-1 win in Kuala Lumpur during the friendly match,” he added.