Mixed fortunes for Aussie teams in Oceania Cup
HOCKEY: The Kookaburras took their game to the "next level” to win the third and final Test of the Oceania Cup in Rockhampton.
The world number one ranked team beat New Zealand 3-nil on Sunday night to claim the Cup and qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
They finished the best-of-three series with two wins and a draw.
Their female counterparts, the Hockeyroos, had a 1-all draw in their must-win third Test and now have to play another Olympic qualifier in Perth in October.
The New Zealand women locked in their place at the Olympics after finishing the series with a better goal difference.
They won the opening Test 3-1 before losing the second 3-2.
Kookaburras coach Colin Batch said it was great to take the direct route to Tokyo.
"We played a lot of Pro League this year and we played really well in that but it's not a qualification so this was our first opportunity to do it,” he said.
"It was very important to do that rather than go through another qualifier.
"Now we can start planning in proper terms over the next 10 months.”
Batch said New Zealand were competitive over the three games but he was pleased with how the Kookaburras stepped up on Sunday after their 2-all draw on Saturday.
"We took our game to another level so very pleasing to finish with that result,” he said after Sunday's win.
"I think after a down game, if you can call it that, you always come out firing.
"There was strong motivation to finish and get the qualification and actually win the Oceania Cup.
"We pride ourselves on playing the last game really well and I think we saw that today - a very even performance by the team, very connected and we got the result.”
Hockeyroos coach Paul Gaudoin said it was "bitterly disappointing” his team could not get the all-important win on Sunday.
The Aussies scored in the second minute and led until New Zealand levelled with five minutes to go.
"There were some critical moments that we didn't deal with well enough, and that gave them a chance and they took it,” Gaudoin said.
"They're the little things, the one-per-centers, our group are really going to have to improve in order to make sure we get the job done in October.”
Meanwhile, Papua New Guinea men's and women's teams took the honours in the Intercontinental 5s.
The Solomon Islands and Tonga also contested the event, run in conjunction with the Oceania Cup.