THE Kookaburras and Hockeyroos will head to Melbourne with plenty of confidence following hard-fought wins in Bendigo on Monday night.
For the second time in as many days, the Kookaburras defeated the New Zealand Black Sticks, while the Hockeyroos opened their International Festival of Hockey campaign with a win over a resilient United States.
The Kookaburras’ 2-0 win followed a 4-0 victory on Sunday at the Bendigo Hockey Centre.
Assistant coach Anthony Potter, who took on the role of head coach in lieu of Colin Batch, said the Kookaburras had not been nearly as impressive as they were the previous day.
“Result-wise it was pleasing for the guys; we tried a few different things today,” he said.
“We actually started really well in the game and then we actually dropped off.
“Our main calling card today was ‘do things with purpose’ and that fell off at the end of the second quarter and third quarter.
“What was pleasing, we managed to get it back in the third quarter and actually played quite well in the last quarter to get an extra goal.
“There’s still plenty to work on, but it was okay.”
Potter said there was little doubt the New Zealanders had improved its work-rate from the previous match.
Aaron Kleinschmidt broke the deadlock in a tight contest with a goal late in the opening quarter after some excellent lead-up work from Dylan Wotherspoon.
A game of few chances remained at 1-0 until Blake Glover broke the shackles two minutes into the final term to give the Kookaburras a two-goal lead.
Kookabuuras midfielder Eddie Ockendedn said the clean-sweep against the Black Sticks was just the start the side was looking for in the four-nation tournament, albeit they had things to work on.
“We really wanted to improve today, but I don’t think we did improve. We were still good enough to get the win,” he said.
“We have so much we can take away from these games.
“We need to learn a lot and learn quickly, but that’s the best thing about playing six games in eight days.”
Following a rest day on Melbourne Cup Day, the Australians will play Pakistan in Melbourne on Wednesday and the Black Sticks again on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Emily Hurtz and Madi Ratcliffe were the stars of the Hockeyroos 2-0 win over the United States.
Hurtz celebrated her first game for the Hockeyroos in three years by setting up Ratcliffe for the game’s opening goal late in the quarter and added one herself late in the game.
The 27-year-old described the win over the plucky Americans as a real team effort.
“Our passing was of a high quality and we were able to move the ball around quite quickly,” she said.
“We really needed to do that against an opposition like the US who are quite speedy and strong in the contest.
“I think we’ve seen the US overrun a few international teams towards the end of games in the last quarter.
“It’s a great start to the International Festival of Hockey.”
Hurtz believed the Aussies toughest challenge would come in their next game on Wednesday against the world No.1 ranked Netherlands.
The Hockeyroos continue their tournament on Thursday with a return clash against the USA before a Saturday encounter against Japan.