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Kookaburras win World League Semi Final

6 July 2015

HOCKEY: A late goal two seconds from full time by Chris Ciriello won the Kookaburras the World League Semi Final tournament in the most dramatic of circumstances, earning a 1-0 over hosts Belgium, on Sunday.

Spurred on by a full house crowd, Belgium held out the World Champions for almost the full 60 minutes in Antwerp with the match coming within two seconds of going to a shoot-out.

Having withstood the hosts’ early pressure, the Kookaburras were well in control of proceedings throughout the second half but it took a flowing late counter attack as the clock ticked down to help seal the outcome.

Bursting out of a deep midfield position, Simon Orchard found Blake Govers inside the Belgian half. A first time pass from Govers found Daniel Beale and the Queenslander found the foot of a Belgium defender inside the circle.

And it was Beale whose penalty corner injection was trapped perfectly at the top of the circle by Orchard for Ciriello to flick inside the left post and win the match.

18 year-old Blake Govers, who turns 19 on Monday, was later named the tournament’s top scorer and Best Junior Player after netting seven goals.

Kookaburras coach Graham Reid said afterwards, “We didn’t plan to bring it down to the wire like that but it’s always good to win.

“Today was a good experience with the crowd. That’s really important and I think our guys handled it well.

“I felt that our second half performance was pretty tops - the pressure that we had on them. Our defence was really good. We created a lot more of the opportunities but unfortunately didn’t put the ball in the net.

“We talked about it before the game; we prepared them that we just needed to be patient with our game plan. The referred pressure that we put on teams becomes more apparent as the game goes on, that was pleasing to see.”

Speaking about Blake Govers, who made his senior international debut in May and was playing in his first major international tournament, Reid added, “He’s had a good start to his career. He’s the sort of guy who listens, he’s very coachable. And, of course, he’ll come away from this tournament with lots of good memories and lots to learn.”

While Ciriello’s goal won the tie, the goalkeepers were amongst the heroes of the day with all three – Australian pair Andrew Charter and Tyler Lovell, playing in his 50th match, and Belgium’s Vincent Vanasch – pulling off a strong of top saves.

Vanasch’s stunning reflex dive low to his right to deny Australian Kiel Brown late in the third period was the pick of several stops that also included a full length dive to deny Eddie Ockenden and a strong save from Blake Govers’ late penalty corner.

At the other end, Andrew Charter’s double denial of Belgium at the game’s first penalty corner was crucial as the Kookaburras found their feet in the match. And Tyler Lovell’s glove save to thwart a late Belgian counter attack came at just the right time.

Ciriello was already public enemy number one with the partisan home fans after a verbal altercation with Tanguy Cosyns in the second quarter that saw both players sin binned. The Victorian was subsequently booed every time he touched the ball but ultimately silenced his critics with the late strike.

It is the fourth time in little over a year that Ciriello’s goals have been crucial in a major final after his hat-tricks in the Grand Finals of the World Cup and Commonwealth Games, and four goals in the 2014 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup final.

The Kookaburras will have the chance to meet Belgium again in the World League Finals tournament at the end of the year in India, which will also feature Germany, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Argentina, India and Canada.

Kookaburras squad v Belgium
Name (Hometown/State) Caps/Goals
Andrew Charter (Canberra, ACT) 98/0
Chris Ciriello (Melbourne, VIC) 170/110
Tim Deavin (Launceston, TAS) 113/5
Jamie Dwyer (Rockhampton, QLD) 341/222
Blake Govers (Wollongong, NSW) 13/11
Fergus Kavanagh (Geraldton, WA) 206/14
Mark Knowles (Rockhampton, QLD) 265/22
Eddie Ockenden (Hobart, TAS) 252/62
Simon Orchard (Maitland, NSW) 178/54
Jake Whetton (Brisbane, QLD) 97/41
Tristan White (Wollongong, NSW) 63/3

Used Substitutes
Daniel Beale (Brisbane, QLD) 64/12
Kiel Brown (Toowoomba, QLD) 168/6
Matt Gohdes (Rockhampton, QLD) 131/39
Kieran Govers (Wollongong, NSW) 108/56
Tyler Lovell (Perth, WA) 50/0
Matthew Swann (Mackay, QLD) 122/6
Aran Zalewski (Margaret River, WA) 66/6

Classification Fixtures & Results
9th/10th: Poland 4-2 China
7th/8th: Pakistan 1-2 France
5th/6th: Ireland 4-1 Malaysia
3th/4th: Great Britain 5-1 India
1st/2nd: Australia 1-0 Belgium

Final classification
1st: Australia
2nd: Belgium
3rd: Great Britain
4th: India
5th: Ireland
6th: Malaysia
7th: France
8th: Pakistan
9th: Poland
10th: China


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