Kieran Govers goal seals Champions Trophy

HOCKEY

The Kookaburras have put a foot wrong just once in the past four years.

Yesterday, they put it right, with a sensational Champions Trophy victory thanks to a golden goal by Illawarra's Kieran Govers in extra time at Melbourne's State Hockey Centre.

Australia's 2-1 win over The Netherlands went some way to easing the pain of missing out on London Olympics gold after dominating men's hockey for the preceding Olympic cycle.

In an epic game echoing the team's Athens Olympics win over the Dutch, Govers's reverse-stick belter five minutes into extra time gave Australia an unprecedented fifth successive Champions Trophy title.

Yet the mystery was as big as the history - a victory perhaps making Australia's semi-final defeat at this year's Olympics even more inexplicable.

There the hot favourites for the gold medal were leading in the second half before being run over by Germany in 20 minutes of uncharacteristically timid hockey.

In Melbourne, they produced remarkable defence, patience and persistence - conceding just three goals in the six-game tournament and creating a wealth of chances.

Acting coach Graham Reid said London wasn't directly spoken about in the lead-up to the game.

It didn't need to be. Players admitted it was well and truly on their minds during the tournament.

"It was pretty important for me," Kookaburras star Jamie Dwyer said of winning the tournament featuring the world's top eight nations.

"I guess after London we had a few doubts going through our heads, both individually and as a team.

"To come out and play like we did this week and not give the opposition many chances, and enjoy it as well, it's great."

The Australians overcame a sensational goalkeeping performance from Dutchman Jaap Stockmann.

After Sander Baart opened the scoring for the Dutch and Australia's Russell Ford equalised after 31 minutes, Stockmann made five outstanding second-half stops to deny the Kookaburras and force the game into extra time.

It took a sensational goal to beat him - Albion Park junior Govers firing off his reverse stick from an Eddie Ockenden pass to seal gold.

Yet there was a bittersweet feeling about the victory, and Dwyer admitted as much. The Kookaburras are perfectionists, and Dwyer said it would take more for the team to gain closure from their London loss, especially as Germany missed the Champions Trophy medal rounds.

"We're not the best team in the world, because Germany beat us in one game in London in August," Dwyer said.

"If we'd have won that, we'd have been the best team in the world. I'd love another crack at the Germans again.

"Maybe in the World Cup. Maybe in the final."

Earlier, Pakistan won the bronze medal, fighting back from a goal down to beat India 3-2 . AAP

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