Kookaburras march into World League semis
2 July 2015
HOCKEY: The Kookaburras marched into the semi-final of the Hockey World League after overcoming a dogged and physical Ireland 4-1 in an absorbing quarter-final in Antwerp.
Goals from Queensland cousins Matt Gohdes and Jamie Dwyer and New South Wales duo Simon Orchard and Blake Govers guided the Australian men to victory as the mercury hit 32 degrees.
Kookaburras coach Graham Reid admitted afterwards, “It wasn’t a pretty win but sometimes that’s what it is in international hockey.
“There are lots of obstacles put in your way and for us to come out with a win was a positive for us but [there is] lots to look at.
“With Ireland you’re never quite sure with what you’re going to get. We don’t play them very much. We tried to prepare the boys as much as we could for that.
“I thought we started pretty well. We knew that they would frustrate us because they’re a very dogged team. They defend very well, they have lots of people behind the ball.
“In that first quarter it was good. We didn’t necessarily expect to score. You’re going to make opportunities and hopefully you can. In the third quarter we threw the ball away a lot when we needed to keep it.
“We would have preferred a bit more structure in our attack. That’s probably one of things we’ll be looking at.”
Speaking about Eddie Ockenden, who at the age of just 28 was playing in his 250th match for Australia, Reid said, “It’s fantastic to be so young and achieve that milestone. I know we don’t talk too much about those milestones because that’s the Australian way but for someone like him I think it’s a fantastic achievement and I’m sure that he’ll play many more.”
Gohdes and Dwyer put the Kookaburras in the driving seat with goals in the second and third quarters but Australia didn’t have it all their own way as Ireland defended in numbers, content to hit back on the counter attack.
Gohdes did well to control a rebounding penalty corner before lashing home under Irish goalkeeper Davey Harte while Dwyer applied a superb deflection after Eddie Ockenden’s intricate skill at the top of the circle set him up.
Between the goals, with the Kookaburras leading 1-0, Ireland came close to an equaliser on the break when Alan Sothern latched onto an aerial pass and lobbed Australian goalkeeper Andrew Charter but the ball dropped wide.
A superb piece of individual composure from Simon Orchard made it 3-0 as the Maitland midfielder controlled Kieran Govers’ long range aerial pass into the circle, applying the critical touch to score as he was felled.
Blake Govers rounded off the Australian goals with a trademark precision penalty corner, the tenth of young career, before Shane O’Donoghue bagged a late consolation with a set piece deflection.
Speaking afterwards, Eddie Ockenden said of making his 250th appearance for his country, “It’s a lot of games. It feels like it’s gone pretty quickly.
“I’m pretty pleased to get it over with. It was a bit of a nervy game to worry about a milestone so it’s good that we made it through to the semi-finals. To get to the top four was what we wanted."
Defining some of the highlights of his career to date, the Tasmanian midfielder said, “My first game, my first tour – it was a bit of a whirlwind, something I never expected. Obviously, going to two Olympics, winning two World Cups and the other 240-odd games were awesome as well. I’ve loved every minute of it so far.”
The Kookaburras will face the winner of the quarter-final between Great Britain and Pakistan in the semi-final on Friday evening in Belgium (Saturday morning in Australia).
Kookaburras squad v Ireland
Name (Hometown/State) Caps/Goals
Andrew Charter (Canberra, ACT) 96/0
Chris Ciriello (Melbourne, VIC) 168/109
Tim Deavin (Launceston, TAS) 111/5
Jamie Dwyer (Rockhampton, QLD) 339/222
Kieran Govers (Wollongong, NSW) 106/56
Fergus Kavanagh (Geraldton, WA) 204/14
Mark Knowles (Rockhampton, QLD) 263/22
Simon Orchard (Maitland, NSW) 176/54
Jake Whetton (Brisbane, QLD) 95/40
Tristan White (Wollongong, NSW) 61/3
Aran Zalewski (Margaret River, WA) 64/6
Daniel Beale (Brisbane, QLD) 62/11
Kiel Brown (Toowoomba, QLD) 166/6
Matt Gohdes (Rockhampton, QLD) 129/39
Blake Govers (Wollongong, NSW) 11/10
Tyler Lovell (Perth, WA) 48/0
Matthew Swann (Mackay, QLD) 120/6
Eddie Ockenden (Hobart, TAS) 250/62
Match Schedule - Kookaburras
3 July - 18:00 CET or 20:30 CET (Belgium) / 02:00 or 04:30 AEST (Friday) - Semi Final v Great Britain or Pakistan
5 July - TBC - Medal Matches / Classification
In Australia, Fox Sports is broadcasting the Kookaburras' matches (and those of the Hockeyroos) live from the World League.