Kookaburras earn another amazing comeback win in India

Ian ChadbandAAP
Tim Brand has come up with a winner for Australia against the Netherlands with 29 seconds left. (AP PHOTO)
Camera IconTim Brand has come up with a winner for Australia against the Netherlands with 29 seconds left. (AP PHOTO) Credit: AP

The Kookaburras have continued their remarkable start to Olympic year with a second-straight wholly improbable comeback win in the FIH Hockey Pro League, this time toppling the Netherlands, the world's No.1 side, in a 5-4 classic.

Less than 24 hours after coming from 4-2 down to beat hosts India 6-4 in Bhubaneswar, Australia's men enjoyed an even more astounding win, recovering from 3-0 down against the Pro League leaders and title holders and grabbing the winner with just 29 seconds left on the clock on Friday.

Tim Brand slotted home the Kookaburras' last-gasp clincher after two goals apiece from Jeremy Hayward and the ever-prolific Blake Govers had dragged them back into a match that had looked lost at halftime as they looked strangely lethargic and off the pace at 3-0 down.

Their first-half performance, in which they succumbed to a brilliant reverse-stick shot from Duco Telgenkamp and two slick goals from Koen Bijen, left coach Colin Batch evidently dismayed.

Get in front of tomorrow's news for FREE

Journalism for the curious Australian across politics, business, culture and opinion.


The lacklustre effort, which perhaps stemmed from them still not having recovered fully from their exertions against India on Thursday, left Batch suggesting they were "distracted", lacking "in energy and passion" and had been "un-Kookaburra-like".

It all began when Dan Beale got robbed in possession just outside the circle to help gift Telgenkamp the first goal, and the Aussie soon after had 10 minutes on the bench to think about it after he also got a yellow card for striking an Indian opponent in the face with his stick.

The Game AFL 2024

A few home truths at halftime may have accounted for a very different display after the break as Australia's Olympic silver medallists responded like champions with the Oranje appearing guilty of resting on their laurels somewhat.

First, the predatory Govers latched on to a rebound from Tom Craig's shot off the keeper's pads to give the Aussies hope, before two precision penalty corners from Hayward either side of the third-quarter whistle levelled the scores.

Later in the fourth quarter, Govers, with his 89th penalty-corner goal and his 140th international strike in total, put the Australians ahead for the first time, only for the tournament's top scorer Jip Janssen, on his 100th appearance for the Dutch, to equalise with a penalty stroke five minutes from time.

But the Aussies won the topsy-turvy encounter in the final minute after Tom Wickham brilliantly cut inside from the right flank, unleashing a reverse stick shot that Brand, with a lightning reaction, diverted into the net to prompt whoops of delight from the world's sixth-ranked side.

But the Kookaburras look as though they'll soon be flying rather higher than that unaccustomed lowly ranking as they have now won all four of their matches in Bhubaneswar over the past five days, pushing them into a strong position in the league.

They have a maximum 12 points from their opening games, just three points behind the Dutch, who've played four more matches.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails