Kookaburras ease their London pain

The Kookaburras have put a foot wrong just once in the past four years.

On Sunday, they put it right, with a sensational Champions Trophy victory thanks to Kieran Govers' golden goal in extra-time at Melbourne's State Hockey Centre.

Australia's 2-1 win over The Netherlands went some way to easing the pain of missing out on London Olympics gold after dominating men's hockey for the preceding Olympic cycle.

In an epic game echoing the Kookaburras' Athens Olympics win over the Dutch in similar circumstances, Govers' reverse stick belter five minutes into extra-time gave Australia an unprecedented fifth successive Champions Trophy title.

Yet the mystery was as big as the history - a victory perhaps making the Kookaburras' semi-final defeat at this year's Olympics even more inexplicable.

There they were hot gold medal favourites, leading in the second half, but were run over by Germany in 20 minutes of uncharacteristically timid hockey to lose their chance at Olympic glory.

In Melbourne, they have produced remarkable defence, patience and persistence - conceding just three goals in the six-game tournament and creating a weight of chances.

Acting coach Graham Reid said London wasn't directly spoken about in the lead-up to the game.

It didn't need to be.

Players admitted it was well and truly on their minds during the tournament.

"It was pretty important for me," Kookaburras star Jamie Dwyer said of winning the tournament featuring the world's top eight nations.

"I guess after London we had a few doubts going through our heads, both individually and as a team.

"To come out, and play like we did this week and not give the opposition many chances, and enjoy it as well, it's great."

The Australians overcame a sensational goalkeeping performance from Dutchman Jaap Stockmann to eventually prevail.

After Sander Baart opened the scoring for the Dutch and Australia's Russell Ford equalised after 31 minutes, Stockmann made five sensational second half stops to deny the Kookaburras and force the game into extra-time.

It took a sensational goal to beat him - Govers firing off his reverse stick from an Eddie Ockenden pass to seal gold.

Yet there was a bittersweet feeling about the victory, and Dwyer admitted as much.

The Kookaburras are perfectionists, and Dwyer says closure from London will require more, especially since Germany missed the Champions Trophy medal rounds.

"We're not the best team in the world because Germany beat us in one game in London in August," Dwyer said.

"If we'd have won that, we'd have been the best team in the world. I'd love another crack at the Germans again.

"Maybe in the World Cup. Maybe in the final."

Earlier Pakistan won the bronze medal, fighting back from a goal down to beat India 3-2 .

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