Hockey World Cup 2018: Day Ten - Blake Govers nets hat-trick as Kookaburras smash China
Photo Credits : Getty Images

World Cup reigning champions Australia have completed a perfect pool stage with a ruthless 11-0 thrashing of China PR in their final World Cup group game in Bhubaneswar on Friday night.

The world number one Kookaburras came within one goal of their own World Cup record win of 12-0 over South Africa from 2010, having led 9-0 at the final break.

Wollongong’s Blake Govers, who is now the World Cup top scorer with five goals, starred with a hat-trick and an assist in the emphatic victory.

Govers grabbed three goals but the others were shared around with Tim Brand next best with a double.

Aran Zalewski, Tom Craig, Jeremy Hayward, Jake Whetton, Dylan Wotherspoon and Flynn Ogilvie all also netted in the crushing victory.

The Kookaburras had already sealed their quarter-final spot and will take momentum into their knockout match where they’ll play France or third in Pool B, either China, Ireland or England, at 10:30pm AEDT on Wednesday night.

Australia were dominant throughout against China, with 42-6 circle penetrations, 17-1 shots and 6-1 penalty corners.

Player of the Match Govers said: “We had a great game today and really gelled together so it was positive.”

When asked about the World Cup record, he added: “We had no clue. We just stuck to our game plan. We were playing China and had a game plan. That’s it really.”

Whetton swept over the bar inside the first five minutes from an Eddie Ockenden pass, while the Chinese defence held out for almost 10 minutes before the opener.

Govers broke the deadlock, after Australia won a penalty corner from a Tom Craig referral, which Wollongong product Govers rifled past China keeper Wang Caiyu high into the net.

Australia doubled their lead late in the first period when Zalewski, who missed the first pool game due to illness, easily converted Wotherspoon’s cutback after Hayward’s flick was saved.

Craig made it 3-0 in the 16th minute with a shot under Wang after receiving a baseline pass from Trent Mitton, who will play his 150th game for Australia in the upcoming quarter-final.

Jake Harvie won Australia a 19th minute penalty corner, which Govers powered into the back of the net with the aid of a slight deflection of a Chinese runner.

Darwin defender Hayward joined the party as Australia converted their fourth first-half short corner with a low flick to Wang’s right in the 22nd minute.

Whetton scored arguably the goal of the night in the 29th minute when he acrobatically dived to convert Govers’ cutback. Govers had brilliantly trapped Ockenden’s powerful drive into the D to set up the chance.

Australia showed no signs of letting up after taking a 6-0 lead into the long interval, with Brand scoring from Ogilvie’s 33rd minute pass.

Govers completed his hat-trick a minute later with a rocket of a finish after Hayward nipped in to steal the ball.

Daniel Beale cut back an expert reverse stick cross for Wotherspoon to deflect home Australia’s ninth in the 38th minute.

Australia had to wait until the 49th minute to reach double figures when Ogilvie lashed home a loose ball after Brand’s centred pass caused chaos inside the circle.

Kookaburras keeper Tyler Lovell was called into action for the first time from a 52nd minute Chinese penalty corner but made a routine save.

Brand added the 11th with the simplest of finishes from close range after Harvie’s cutback was deflected across the goalmouth.

Australia 11 (Govers 10’, 19’, 34’, Zalewski 15’, Craig 16’, Hayward 22’, Whetton 29’, Brand 33’, 55’, Wotherspoon 38, Ogilvie 49’)
China PR 0