WEST Vancouver's new Rutledge Field opened to fanfare as well as fantastic action as the Canadian and Australian national men's field hockey teams battled in front of more than 1,000 spectators Saturday.
The new home of the West Vancouver Field Hockey Club, located inside Ambleside Park, is named after Ross Rutledge, a former national team player and influential coach on the North Shore who died in 2004 at the age of 41. His two sons, Nick and Connor, took part in the opening ceremony and were presented with honourary national team jerseys for both Canada and Australia.
Once play began the action was fast and furious as both teams traded chances with Australia clinging to a slim 3-2 lead at halftime. In the second half the more experienced Aussies fought off Canada's comeback attempts and added two more goals to make the final 5-2. After the game players from both teams stayed on field to conduct a clinic for junior members of the West Van Field Hockey Club.
The international match was actually Game 2 of the CANgaroo Clash, a five-game exhibition series at Rutledge Field between the two teams. The squads first met Sept. 9 at Rutledge field with Australia opening the series with a 2-0 win.
Game 3 took place Sunday and Canada took an early 1-0 lead but Australia fought back to make it 2-1 at the half. Both teams opened it up in the second half, trading goals in a freeflowing display of field hockey to make the final 3-2.
Game 4 was played Tuesday night after the North Shore News press deadline. The last chance to catch the two teams in action will be Thursday when Canada and Australia are scheduled to meet in the series finale starting at 7 p.m. at Rutledge Field.