Oceania Cup Final
KOOKABURRAS 5 (2)
Jason Wilson 26 (F)
Jake Whetton 32,37 (F,F)
Russell Ford 58 (F)
Glenn Simpson 62 (PC)
NEW ZEALAND 2 (0)
Steve Edwards 56 (F)
Nick Haig 69 (PC)
First half coverage...
Second half coverage...
A dominant second half performance by the Kookaburras earned Australia’s men a commanding 5-2 victory over New Zealand in the Oceania Cup final on Sunday afternoon. The outcome meant an eighth consecutive Oceania Cup title for the Kookaburras.
Jason Wilson (QLD) broke the deadlock late in the first half while Jake Whetton’s (QLD) double, the first of which was a cheeky lob over the goalkeeper, put the Kookaburras in the driving seat early in the second period. Russell Ford’s (VIC) thunderbolt strike was an immediate riposte to Steve Edwards’ goal for New Zealand before Glenn Simpson (VIC) fired home a low penalty corner for 5-1. A late goal from New Zealander Nick Haig was little more than a consolation strike.
Afterwards, coach Graham Reid said that overall he was pleased with how his side had performed but warned that improvements must still be made if the Kookaburras are to regain the coveted world number one spot.
“It’s always good to win and we played pretty well in patches but we had a shaky start when we were a bit frenetic,” said Reid. “After that we settled into our rhythm and in the second half were more dominant, although it was a bit of a loose finish, which we’ll need to cut out if we want to be back at world number one.”
For the best part of the opening half hour the sides were evenly matched. Both created opportunities and the Kookaburras survived a minor scare as the umpires waves away Kiwi appeals for a penalty stroke. But after settling down, first blood went to the Kookaburras as Jason Wilson struck an upright reverse shot following good work by Glenn Turner (ACT).
The Kookaburras might have been content with the slim lead going in at half time but a moment of inspiration from Jake Whetton doubled the advantage just two minutes before the break. Latching on to Chris Ciriello’s long overhead pass, Whetton showed a sharpness of thought and touch to lift the ball over the advancing goalkeeper Hamish McGregor and into the goal for 2-1.
Whetton’s second came just two minutes into the second half as he deflected home on the far post after fellow Queenslander Daniel Beale found him on the back post. And as the Kookaburras began to exert their dominance they won a series of penalty corners. But McGregor and the New Zealand defence proved equal to Chris Ciriello’s drag flicks.
With just under 15 minutes remaining Steve Edwards pulled one back for New Zealand with a solo effort, dribbling through the Australian defence, but the Kookaburras’ response was immediate. Picking off a wayward New Zealand pass, the Kookaburras countered at speed with Victorian Russell Ford arriving in good time to rifle an unstoppable shot home for 4-1.
Ford’s fellow Victorian Glenn Simpson then flicked a low penalty corner into the bottom of the goal for 5-2 before Nick Haig’s late consolation for the Black Sticks.
Looking ahead to the coming months, Reid explained what’s in store for the Kookaburras.
“The guys will have three or four weeks off,” he said. “Then it’s back together at the start of December for the World League preparation and with the World Cup and Commonwealth Games next year it’s pretty full on from then. They won’t get much of a Christmas or New Year.”
Photos courtesy of Dan Carson/DC Images