Kookaburras coach Colin Batch says his side had a steely resolve to finish off their 2018 FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup campaign on a high following their heartbreaking semi-final defeat.
Australia, who were the defending world champions and top-ranked side going into the World Cup, were knocked out of gold medal contention after a 4-3 shootout defeat to the Netherlands in Saturday’s semi-final.
The Kookaburras had rallied from 2-0 down at half-time, with Eddie Ockenden equalising with 27 seconds left to send the match to a dramatic shootout.
Australia put aside the disappointment of the defeat to crush England 8-1 in Sunday’s third place match to seal the bronze medal.
“After the disappointment in the last game where we lost the semi-final, we were determined to perform better in the match,” Batch said.
“We played the game the way we wanted and won. It is good have a podium finish at this level of competition.
“I am sure England would be disappointed with the results. We scored a lot of goals in the match and won it.”
Kookaburras veteran Matthew Swann, who was part of Australia’s triumphant 2010 and 2014 campaigns, added that the team banded together to bounce back from Saturday’s heartache.
“You’ve got to band together as teammates and brothers,” Swann said.
“We have each other’s back no matter what. We showed that over 60 minutes against England.”
He added: “We lost the opportunity to win gold but we took the opportunity to win bronze.
“That’s what you need to do in life, whenever an opportunity arises you grab it with both hands.”
Belgium lifted the World Cup with a 3-2 shootout victory over the Netherlands in Sunday’s final following a 0-0 draw.
The result moved Belgium (2196 points) marginally above Australia (2181 points) on the FIH World Rankings into first, with the Kookaburras dropping to second. The Dutch moved up to third on 2029 points above Argentina.
Coincidentally, Australia will play both the Netherlands and Belgium in their next international matches to open the FIH Pro League on Saturday-Sunday 2-3 February at Melbourne’s State Netball and Hockey Centre with tickets available now via www.ticketbooth.com.au.
Australia received their bronze medals after Sunday’s win while Blake Govers was also awarded for joint top scorer with seven goals alongside Belgium’s Alexander Hendrickx.