Grace Stewart scores Hockeyroos hat-trick

The Hockeyroos and PNG. Photo: HOCKEY AUSTRALIA

The Hockeyroos and PNG. Photo: HOCKEY AUSTRALIA

THE Kookaburras and Hockeyroos have both secured their spots in their respective Oceania Cup Finals after big wins at Sydney Olympic Park Hockey Centre on Thursday night.

The Hockeyroos qualified for Sunday’s Final after a routine 23-nil victory over Papua New Guinea in the 6pm game, with Emily Smith scoring five goals on her debut as Australian captain and Gerringong’s Grace Stewart scoring three.

The Kookaburras triumphed over rivals New Zealand 5-1 with Jeremy Hayward firing them to victory with two goals from penalty corners in the 8pm game.  

Jake Whetton, Tom Craig and Dylan Wotherspoon were also on the scoresheet for the second-ranked Kookaburras against the eighth-ranked Black Sticks.

The result made it two wins from two matches for Australia after Wednesday’s 30-0 victory over Papua New Guinea.

“It was a pretty good performance, 5-1 in the end,” two-goal hero Hayward said.

“That’s the round matches done so we’ve got a rest day tomorrow, training on Saturday and then we’ll be ready for the final on Sunday.”

Hayward opened the scoring late in the first quarter but the opening half was an even affair, with Australia edging the chances but only holding a 1-nil lead.

The Kookaburras converted their opportunities in the third quarter to open up a three-goal buffer at the final break, with Whetton and Hayward grabbing the goals.

Whetton reacted brilliantly to scoop home from close range on 34 minutes after Blake Govers’ squeeze shot hit the post.

Hayward added the third in trademark fashion with a powerful shot from a penalty corner on 42 minutes.

Australia were happy to pass the ball around early in the last, before Craig powered home a fierce shot from just inside the circle to make it 4-nil.

New Zealand pulled one back when Daniel Harris shot in the back of the net from a penalty corner, but the Kookaburras added a fifth barely 15 seconds later when Trent Mitton drove forward and squared for Wotherspoon who brilliantly volleyed home.

Meanwhile, Smith was the star for the Hockeyroos, while Kathryn Slattery blasted a first-half hat-trick on her way to four for the match.

The result eliminates Papua New Guinea after two heavy defeats, with Australia still to play New Zealand on Saturday, before Sunday’s decider.

There were 10 different goal scorers in the victory, including Renee Taylor who opened the scoring to get her maiden international goal, before completing a hat-trick.

“It’s always good to get on the scoresheet,” Taylor said. 

“Your first international goal is definitely one you remember throughout your career, so it’s very exciting to finally get one in.

“We had a few things which we wanted to work on each quarter, whether it was pressing or ball movement. 

“It was good to get the touches out and get used to the turf before taking on New Zealand on the weekend.”

Gabi Nance and Maddy Fitzpatrick both hit doubles while Brooke Peris, Kaitlin Nobbs, Kristina Bates and Kate Hanna also scored goals.

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