Australia men stun Netherlands to win Rabobank Hockey World Cup
Ciriello hat-trick helps Kookaburras to 6-1 win over host.
Australia powered to a sensational 6-1 victory over host nation the Netherlands in the men’s final of the Rabobank Hockey World Cup, with drag-flicking defender Chris Ciriello scoring a hat-trick to help the Kookaburras retain the title that the won four years ago in New Delhi, India.
The Aussies fell behind to an early goal from Jeroen Hertzberger, but Ciriello (3), Kieran Govers, Glenn Turner and Jamie Dwyer all netted to give the Oceania Champions a resounding victory over the home favourites.
Two Kookaburras players were also honoured in the individual awards, with team captain Mark Knowles being named Rabobank Player of the Tournament, while Jeremy Hayward was given the Hero Junior Player award.
The game brought the curtain down an extraordinarily successful joint men’s and women’s tournament at the Kyocera stadium, a venue that has welcomed well in excess of 200,000 fans over 14 wonderful days of competition.
“The boys played really well today, I was just lucky to be at the end of it finishing it”, said Australia’s hat-trick hero Chris Ciriello. “It is not just a hat-trick for me, it’s for the rest of my team and Australia as well.”
Jamie Dwyer, who as well as scoring in the final became Australia’s joint highest caps holder alongside Jay Stacy, said: “We have played really great hockey throughout the tournament, it’s the best hockey I think we have ever played. The game is getting faster and more attractive, and the Dutch played a really good game but thankfully we got the better of them.”
The Kookaburras had the host nation up against the ropes in the first minutes of the game, relentlessly pushing on in the search of the early opening goal which had been a major feature in all of their previous fixtures at the Rabobank hockey world Cup. However, a lightning quick counter-attack from Netherlands star Billy Bakker resulted in the opening penalty corners of the game, with Kookas’ keeper Andrew Charter being forced to make two near identical high glove saves from Mink van der Weerden drag-flicks.
Van der Weerden’s efforts gave the partisan crowd hope, but Hertzberger’s blistering opening goal sent the stadium into delirium. Fourteen minutes into the match, the man in the number 11 shirt picked up the ball outside the 25 metre line, skipped past his marker and unleashed a thunderous back-hand strike into the bottom left corner before wheeling away in celebration.
If the home crowd thought that Hertzberger’s classy strike would rattle the 2010 world champions, they were mistaken. The mighty Kookaburras continued to pressforward at a staggering speed, and were rewarded when Ciriello drag-flicked his team back into the game with a 20th minute penalty corner strike. Oranje shot-stopper Jaap Stockmann managed to get a toe to the ball, but it was not enough to stop it travelling into the net.
Four minutes later the Aussies were ahead, with Govers producing a spectacular first time back-hand strike that was at least equal to Hertzberger’s opener. The 26-year-old didn’t worry about taking a touch to control the ball, instead lashing a first time effort into the goal that gave Stockmann absolutely no chance of saving.
Australia’s first half dominance was reflected by their incredible circle penetration statistics, having made 17 entries into the Netherlands scoring area in comparison to just three from Oranje. That dominance was turned into another goal at the start of the second half when Turner netted from close range following excellent work down the right from Simon Orchard, who was playing his 150th game for the Kookaburras.
It proved to be something of a knock-out punch from the Australians, who quickly moved the score from 3-1 to 5-1 with Ciriello getting two more goals with powerful penalty corner flicks to complete his hat-trick.
Australia’s sixth goal was a moment of sheer magic from five times FIH Player of the Year Jamie Dwyer, who marked his 321st international by jinxing his way along the back-line before drilling the ball into the goal.
Despite Australia’s massive advantage on the score-board, the Netherlands never gave up the challenge and came close to pulling a goal back with another Van der Weerden penalty corner rocket, but again Charter produced the goods to deny the prolific Dutchman.
It was a truly remarkable performance from the Kookaburras, a team that has produced the most impressive of title defences here in The Hague.