IT WAS just the tonic to help heal the Olympics heartbreak.
A young Kookaburras squad was expected to dominate the International Festival of Hockey in Melbourne and delivered in style.
Wollongong’s Tristan White played a key role in the 3-1 triumph in the final against New Zealand, having made a full recovery from the knee injury which denied him a place in Rio earlier this year. Albion Park striker Kieran Govers, who found the backboard twice during the tournament, was also impressive following a stint playing in Holland.
Govers is the most experienced player in the Australian team for the tournament, playing his 120th international game in the final, but has missed more than a year because of ongoing hip and shoulder problems.
“It was a pleasing win at the end of a pretty tough tournament,” interim coach Paul Gaudoin said, having replaced Graham Reid, who quit after missing a medal in Brazil. “I think we’ve learned an awful lot over the last two or three weeks as a young developing group and to be able to play in a final, with the pressure of a final, and perform and win was excellent for the group.”
Trent Mitton opened the scoring to the Kookaburras from the field in the 24th minute, with a stunning reverse flick which found the top corner.
Chris Bausor’s desperate slide doubled their advantage, tapping home Dylan Wotherspoon’s shot.
Govers then produced a remarkable mid-field steal, passing off for Jeremy Hayward to seal victory in the final minute.