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Fab four seal series win for Kookaburras

10 May 2013

HOCKEY: A dominant Kookaburras performance was rewarded with four quickfire goals in ten second half minutes as Australia’s men emerged as 4-1 victors over Korea in the fourth and final test in Perth. The result also sealed a series win for the Kookaburras who won twice and drew twice.

Second half goals, all penalty corners, from Perth’s own Trent Mitton, Victorian Russell Ford, the returning Kieran Govers (NSW) and Queensland’s Rob Hammond capped a determined performance in a match that the Kookaburras bossed for long spells.

Kookaburras coach Ric Charlesworth said afterwards that he was pleased with how his side had used their set pieces and that there might have been more goals had earlier opportunities been converted. “Although it took us 55 minutes to score it was nice to score some corners and we did make a lot of chances, that final pass just needs some work,” he said. “It became a game of attrition but we wore them down in the end and I thought our defence also played well.”

Commenting on the series, which was previously identified as an opportunity for players to put themselves in the reckoning ahead of next week’s World League squad announcement, Charlesworth said, “They’ve been very tough games. Korea is a difficult team to play against; they’re quick and skilful and it hasn’t been easy. It has been a good standard to measure ourselves against.

“I’m pleased with the performances of our newer players. We’ve had ten of them playing across the past couple of months and this series.”

Such was their control of the opening 35 minutes it was hard to believe the scoreboard showed nil nil at the break following a first half in which Australia had ten efforts on goal. Trent Mitton and Jake Whetton both came close to breaking the deadlock but Mitton could only watch as his deflection looped up and over the goal from close range while Whetton’s powerful strike was well saved by the goalkeeper. Kieran Govers, who returned from playing in Europe just two days ago, also threatened before Matt Gohdes’ slapped shot across goal narrowly ran wide of the far post with the goalkeeper at full stretch.

Having offered little in the way of an attacking threat in the first half Korea showed more attacking impetus immediately after the restart and had Australian hearts in mouths as a ball flashed across goal flew narrowly wide of the back post forward. And Kiel Brown was also called upon to mop up at the back before the Kookaburras got the reward they deserved for their attacking efforts.

With quarter of an hour remaining, good work by Russell Ford in finding Trent Mitton created panic in the Korean circle with the umpire awarding Australia a penalty corner. From the set piece, Chris Bausor combined well with his WA compatriot Mitton and the latter finished clinically to give the Kookaburras the lead.

A minute later penalty corner injector Ford doubled Australia’s advantage as he blasted home after the Korean goalkeeper Lee Myung Ho could only push his save in Ford’s direction. The tide had well and truly turned before Govers’ inch perfect drag flick at another penalty corner made it 3-0, the ball reaching its target between the defender and the post.

And two minutes later Queenslander Rob Hammond showed his class as he deftly deflected the ball over the goalkeeper at yet another corner for 4-0, this time following Joel Carroll’s slapped pass.

With the final action of the match, Nam Hyun Woo bagged Korea’s consolation with an unstoppable drag flick that flew high into the top right corner to pull a goal back for the visitors.

The Kookaburras now turn their attention to June’s FIH World League Round 3 in Rotterdam with World Cup qualification at stake. The Kookaburras squad for the European tour, including the World League competition, will be announced on Tuesday 14 May.

Hockey Australia

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