Tasmanian hockey players Eddie Ockenden and Jeremy Edwards declared themselves happy after the Kookaburras progressed to the semi-finals with a 2-1 victory over New Zealand.
A sublime individual first-half goal from Jacob Whetton followed by Trent Mitton’s fourth of the tournament were followed by Cory Bennett’s late consolation for the Kiwis.
The win follows 4-0 thrashings of South Africa and Canada and a 6-1 defeat of Scotland, and maintains the Kookaburras’ proud record of only ever having lost one Commonwealth Games match.
“It was in 1998 against South Africa and we’re not intending on changing that trend, but we understand it’s going to be a pretty tough semi-final regardless of who we play,” said Edwards, 26.
“It was nice to play at a good level for four quarters.
“It would have been nice to knock in a few more goals but we ground away and are pretty happy with a solid effort and can rest tomorrow and look forward to a semi-final.
“I think we’ve had a good build-up, some really tough matches and are really looking forward to the business end.”
Ockenden, 31, added: “That was definitely our toughest test so far.
“The last few games have been a bit inconsistent and we definitely knew this was going to be a huge challenge.
“Today we played probably the best we have for 60 minutes and a lot more consistent.”
Having topped Pool A, the Kookaburras will play either England or India who went into last night’s match against each other level on seven points at the top of Pool B.
“We’ll watch that game on TV and get to bed early,” Ockenden said.
“Just on seedings and rankings you’d think that those two would make the semi-finals. They’re both really strong teams and we’ll see who we play.”
As the competition progresses to the knockout phase, the Tassie Tigers teammates defined their respective roles within Colin Batch’s new-look Kookaburras outfit.
Edwards, who helped the team to World League final and Oceania Cup gold last year and was a part of the recent Azlan Shah Cup triumph in Malaysia, described himself as a “blue-collar defender”.
“My role has changed a bit over the last year. I’m a bit of a swing man,” he said.
“At the end of last year I was playing as a defensive midfielder but that was more to do with the personnel we didn’t have at the time.
“Now, because Mark Knowles plays sweeper, or spare man in footy terms, I’m more of a marking defender. But really I’m not too fussed where I play as long as I’m playing.”
A triple Olympian, two-time World Cup and World League final winner, Ockenden has also been a part of eight Champions Trophy campaigns, winning six.
The versatile veteran continues to redefine his value to the world’s top-ranked team.
Bursting onto the scene at the 2008 Olympics as a dynamic striker who became world young player of the year, he subsequently became a midfield workhorse and has recently adopted a more defensive role.
“I’m a bit more in the back, which is a bit different, something I haven’t done since I was much younger,” he said.
“It’s not really too different to a midfielder and it is good doing something different and hopefully I’m doing a good job.”
The pair also play pivotal roles in the team’s penalty corner routines.
“They’ve got the two Tassie trappers,” Edwards said. “We’re not quite big enough to flick the ball like some of the other fellas but we’re happy doing our job stopping the ball and they can take the glory if it goes in.”
Australia’s women’s bowls triples, including skip Rebecca Van Asch, completed a perfect preliminary phase with a 24-9 win over Fiji.
After a week of frenetic Tasmanian competition, Van Asch will be the state’s only competitor in action on the Gold Coast on Thursday.
The Australian triples team faces a semi-final at 9am at Broadbeach Bowls Club, with the gold and bronze medal matches scheduled for later the same day at 5.30pm.
In other Tasmanian news, Launceston-born basketball duo Chris Goulding and Lucas Walker and their Boomers teammates now know that their opponent in Saturday morning’s men’s semi-final at the Gold Coast Convention Centre will be Scotland.
THE STORY SO FAR
Ariarne Titmus: 200m freestyle, heat 1st, final SILVER; 4x200m freestyle relay GOLD; 800m freestyle, heat 1st, final GOLD; 400m freestyle, heat 1st, final GOLD
Jake Birtwhistle: men’s triathlon, SILVER; mixed teams relay GOLD
Amy Cure: women’s team pursuit, qualifying 1st, final GOLD; women’s points race, 7th; women’s scratch race GOLD
Georgia Baker: women’s points race, 21st
Rebecca Van Asch: bowls, women’s fours, d Papua New Guinea 41-1, d Cook Islands 15-9, d Namibia 23-9, d Malaysia 14-13, semi-final d Canada 10-9, final d South Africa 18-16 GOLD; women’s triples, d Papua New Guinea 32-12, d India 20-11, d Canada 20-13, d Fiji 24-9
Chris Goulding, Lucas Walker: men’s basketball, d Canada 95-55, d New Zealand 79-73, d Nigeria 97-55
Eddie Ockenden, Jeremy Edwards: men’s hockey, d South Africa 4-0, d Scotland 6-1, d Canada 4-0, d New Zealand 2-1
Huw Peacock: men’s hammer, 11th
Stewart McSweyn: men’s 5000m, 5th
Kaity Fassina: women’s 90kg weightlifting, SILVER
Sam Walker: men’s T38 100m, 6th
Danielle McConnell: women’s hammer, 8th
TOMORROW’S SCHEDULE (Thursday April 12)
9am: Bowls, women’s triples semi-finals (Van Asch, Broadbeach BC)
5.30pm Bowls women’s triples finals (Van Asch, Broadbeach BC)