Tuesday 10 April 2018 | The Kookaburras have booked their place in the 2018 Commonwealth Games semi-finals after a comprehensive 4-0 victory over Canada at Gold Coast Hockey Centre on Tuesday afternoon.
Another dominant first-quarter performance set Australia on their way, leading 3-0 at the first break after an early Dylan Wotherspoon double and a trademark Jeremy Hayward drag flick.
Canada rallied as Australia went goalless for two quarters before Trent Mitton added a fourth in the final quarter to seal the deserved win.
Australia dominated circle entries 33-8 along with shots 11 to 3 and penalty corners five to one.
The four-goal win means Australia are second in Pool A ahead of their final game on Wednesday against New Zealand, who defeated Scotland 5-2 on Tuesday.
The two sides are locked on nine points from three games with equal goal difference, with the Black Sticks ahead on goals scored, meaning Australia must win Tuesday’s game to finish top of the pool.
Australia had the early chances with Mitton shooting over the top, while Daniel Beale had no success with a referral after claiming a touch on a drive which ended up in the back of the net.
Wotherspoon opened the scoring in the 12th minute with an instinctive finish from a rebound after Beale’s reverse stick shot forced a save from Canada keeper David Carter.
The Murwillumbah boy doubled Australia’s lead two minutes later after a good turn and run into the circle culminating in a powerful finish into the backboard.
Jeremy Hayward drew a good save from Carter from a 15th minute drag flick, with 50th gamer Aaron Kleinschmidt unable to force home the rebound.
Australia won another penalty corner moments later and Hayward made no mistake this time, shooting to Carter’s left with a touch more power to make it 3-0.
The Kookaburras dominated attacking possession in the second quarter but were unable to create anything clear-cut, until Beale flashed wide after Eddie Ockenden’s slalom run.
Canada won their first penalty corner in the 38th minute, which Gordon Johnston cannoned into the crossbar.
The Kookaburras returned serve with bespectacled defender Matt Dawson forcing a good save from Carter with a 39th minute drag flick.
The Canadians almost pulled a goal back four minutes into the final term when Floris van Son forced a good reflex save from Tyler Lovell with a low shot.
Mitton added the fourth goal with a fine reverse stick finish in the 54th minute after Jake Harvie’s adventurous run forward.
Lovell maintained Australia’s four-goal buffer with another solid save from van Son’s angled drive with three minutes to play, while Whetton fired over after collecting a rebound from a late penalty corner.
Australia faces New Zealand on Wednesday from 4.30pm AEST.
Australia 4 (Wotherspoon 12’, 14’, Hayward 15’, Mitton 54’)
Images: World Sport Pics | Grant Treeby