Kookaburras on top of world after huge victory
AUSTRALIA'S men's hockey team, the Kookaburras, has been crowned world champions once again after an emphatic 6-1 win over World Cup hosts and Olympic silver medallists, the Netherlands.
A hat-trick from penalty corner specialist Chris Ciriello helped the Kookaburras to a second consecutive world title as they stunned the hosts to become only the third team to successfully defend a world crown, following in the footsteps of Pakistan and Germany.
For the first time in the tournament Australia had to come from behind to earn the result but Ciriello's hat-trick and strikes from Kieran Govers, Glenn Turner and Jamie Dwyer demonstrated a devastating response to Jeroen Hertzberger's 14th minute opener.
"You dream about winning the final of the World Cup by a big score. I have done that many times and I always thought it was possible but today we gave effect to that so I'm very, very proud of the team," Kookaburras coach Ric Charlesworth said.
"Our aim is always to dominate our opponents and to defend better and attack better and to control the ball in the midfield and I think we did all of those things.
"We fell behind but I thought we started ok, we just made one error, they got a corner then we lost a bit of momentum and a very good goal by Jeroen Hertzberger.
"But maybe what was good about our team is we just kept playing. 70 minutes is a long time and I think that we believed that if we could keep playing with our tempo, our tone, our energy then we could overcome any team. Thankfully, in the end, that's what happened."
Charlesworth has now coached four World Cup winning teams.
Kookaburras captain and former Rockhampton resident Mark Knowles, playing in his third World Cup final, was named Player of the Tournament while 21 year-old Jeremy Hayward, playing in only his 17th senior international match, was named Young Player of the Tournament.
On the biggest of stages, Simon Orchard made his 150th appearance for the Kookaburras while five times World Player of the Year Jamie Dwyer drew level with Jay Stacy as Australia's most capped player ever with 321 appearances in the green and gold.
The Kookaburras bounced back in style after falling behind for the first time in the tournament to Jeroen Hertzberger's perfectly placed low backhand shot, which flew into the far corner of the goal. Australian goalkeeper Andrew Charter had already pulled off two excellent high saves from the Netherlands' dangerous penalty corner expert Mink van der Weerden but there was little he could do to prevent the hosts from taking the lead.
Dutch goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann's goal had already been threatened by Matt Gohdes in response to Hertzberger's strike but it was Ciriello who pulled the Kookaburras level with a trademark penalty corner flick in the 20th minute.
And the Australian men didn't have to wait long to take the lead. Latching on to a loose ball at the edge of the circle, Kieran Govers' rasping tomahawk caught Stockmann unaware as it flew into the back of the net, silencing the 15,000 strong partisan home crowd.
Glenn Turner gave the Kookaburras the perfect start after half time as he flicked home at the second attempt after his first was cleared off the goal line. The reflex strike came after Australia were given the umpire's advantage inside the Dutch circle and Turner was the ultimate recipient making it 3-1.
Ciriello's second was a carbon copy of his first as he slung a low flick from right to left into the bottom corner beyond Stockmann's outstretched right foot, and he completed his hat-trick in similar style six minutes later.
With just six minutes remaining, Jamie Dwyer got in on the act, rounding the goalkeeper before shooting Australia to 6-1.
A heart-warming moment late in the game saw Australian goalkeeper Andrew Charter substituted to a rousing ovation from the crowd. Despite the end result being all but confirmed, his replacement Tyler Lovell was still called upon to make a good save to deny the Dutch a late consolation.
Hat-trick hero Chris Ciriello said afterwards, "It hasn't sunk in yet. The way Ric sort of programs you is play every minute - minute after minute after minute - so it was good to get the first one, then switch off and worry about the next tackle, the next pass. I think it won't sink in 'til a bit later when I don't have to buy any drinks."
Acknowledging the work of his teammates, he added, "It's not just me that gets to flick the corners. It's all the strikers, the pressure and hard work that they've done to be able to get the corner. And it's just about being lucky enough to be in the right position in the right place if you're on the field. And you never know what Ric's going to call. There's a hundred variations and three other world class flickers; you're just sort of praying you get the chance."
"I'm very honoured to win the title again. What we play hockey for is to play in big matches," Knowles said.
"We were very disappointed after London 2012 [where the Kookaburras won a bronze medal] and we made some changes. We wanted to be better.
"That's the big thing within this group - it's about improving. Certainly it's a team that's growing and you want to keep moving. I think that's the greatest thing of this tournament for us; we moved forward.
"Very rarely do you play top quality matches, top, top performances in big games and I'm just so honoured and so proud of the guys from today… that's a performance that we can all be proud of. It's what you hope will happen in big matches but you don't always expect it.
"It's pretty amazing for our sport in the country and I feel really, really proud of the guys and the coaching staff and what we've been able to achieve tonight. That's just the fairy-tale end to a World Cup that's been very, very good."
After the team returns to Australia on Tuesday the focus shifts to next month's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow where the Australian men will be looking to win a fifth consecutive Commonwealth gold medal.
Bronze medal match result
Argentina 2-0 England
1. Australia (Gold medal)
2. Netherlands (Silver medal)
3. Argentina (Bronze medal)
7. New Zealand
11. South Africa
Kookaburras' squad v Netherlands
Athlete (Hometown, State) Caps/Goals [Age]
Andrew Charter (Canberra, ACT) 70/0 
Chris Ciriello (Melbourne, VIC) 140/85 
Tim Deavin (Launceston, TAS) 91/4 
Jamie Dwyer (Rockhampton, QLD) 321/206 
Matt Gohdes (Rockhampton, QLD) 94/26 
Kieran Govers (Wollongong, NSW) 93/47 
Fergus Kavanagh (Geraldton, WA) 185/14 
Mark Knowles (Rockhampton, QLD) 239/20 
Eddie Ockenden (Hobart, TAS) 215/54 
Simon Orchard (Maitland, NSW) 150/46 
Aran Zalewski (Margaret River, WA) 37/4 
Liam De Young (Brisbane, QLD) 312/35 
Rob Hammond (Townsville, QLD) 256/28 
Jeremy Hayward (Darwin, NT) 17/5 
Tyler Lovell (Perth, WA) 28/0 
Matthew Swann (Mackay, QLD) 107/5 
Glenn Turner (Goulburn, NSW) 112/79 
Jake Whetton (Brisbane, QLD) 62/25