Kookaburras bounce back in Bendigo

NUMBER ONE: Kookaburras star Jeremy Hayward celebrates his match-winning goal in the second Test against India. Picture: NONI HYETT

NUMBER ONE: Kookaburras star Jeremy Hayward celebrates his match-winning goal in the second Test against India. Picture: NONI HYETT

The Kookaburras levelled their two-Test hockey series with India after scoring a gutsy 4-3 win in Bendigo on Wednesday night.

After dropping the first Test 3-2, the Kookaburras looked in trouble again when they fell behind three times in the first half.

However, two penalty corner goals in the second half from Jeremy Hayward saw the Kookaburras over the line in front of an appreciative Bendigo crowd.

Kookaburras coach Paul Gaudion was frustrated by his team’s performance in the first Test and, despite winning the second Test, he was only marginally happier on Wednesday night.

“It’s nice to win, but we certainly didn’t play well,’’ Gaudion said.

“It was a very scrappy game… what we tried to highlight to our young guys that sometimes you have to grind out a win and I think we did that today. We found a way to win.

“The skill level was poor and it’s been a long year for some of these guys. They deserve their rest now.”

Indian skipper Raghunath Vokkaliga once again proved to be a thorn in Australia’s side. After scoring one goal from a penalty corner on Tuesday night, the big man powered home two more goals from penalty corners in the second Test.

Gaudion said the Kookaburras’ defence was poor.

“We’ve got a high standard and I don’t think we got there today,’’ he said. 

“What we did do is we learnt a lot about some players. We’ll be able to go back now and give them clear ideas of where they need to improve over the next few years.”

Gaudion said the experiment of playing Test hockey in Bendigo for the first time had been a success.

“More than half our players come from country areas, so we all love getting out to the country,’’ he said. “The crowds are always fantastic and the hospitality is first class.”

The Bendigo crowd was also treated to a penalty shoot-out after last night’s match.

The Kookaburras won 3-2, thanks largely to some brilliant saves from keeper Andrew Charter.

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