Series puts stadium on world stage

Laura GrubisaNarrogin Observer

The Kookaburras and Netherlands have left Narrogin full of praise after a two-game international series at Narrogin Hockey Stadium last weekend.

The weather for both games was a warm change compared to 2016’s wet and wild conditions when Narrogin hosted the Kookaburras and Great Britain.

Saturday’s crowd of 1700 people watched as the Australian side fought back from 3-2 down with 30 seconds to go.

Jeremy Hayward scored the equalising goal in the dying seconds to bring the game to a draw.

“It was good fun,” Hayward said. “It’s a good test against the Dutch, they’re a quality side and they showed it.

“They were ahead and we pegged back pretty late in the end.

“The boys got the corner and I just had to walk up and do the easy bit really.”

Hayward said the games in Narrogin were a great preparation with the Commonwealth Games and World Cup both coming up this year.

“We’re always learning and developing our game and there’s always things we want to get better at,” he said.

The Kookaburras were not so lucky with the result on Sunday, with the team going down to the Netherlands 3-2 in front of about 1200 fans. However, it was a milestone match for Tristan White, who played his 100th game for Australia.

“I’m not one to really count games but it’s special to play just one for Australia and it was nice for the boys to get around me today for my 100th,” he said.

White said he thoroughly enjoyed his time in Narrogin and would love to head back.

“The weather has been great and the hospitality, the food, the people around here are awesome,” he said.

“I was lucky enough to come here a few years ago when the weather wasn’t quite as great but still a great experience and I’d be more than happy to come back any time.”

The teams are now back in Perth preparing for another two-game series, which kicks off tonight.

White said the Kookaburras had to get used to the Dutch style of play.

“The Netherlands are all really polished hockey players and that brings something different, so we just have to really work on our video and make sure we know what is coming for these next two games,” he said.

“And we have to up our intensity — we know if we play with intensity, we can take it to them and beat them.”

The weekend was organised by a committee headed by Leigh Ballard and Mark Regan, and Regan said it would not have been possible without a huge amount of support.

“Leigh and I were the heads of the committee, but it really was a team effort,” he said.

“We’re absolutely rapt with how it went, especially with the numbers on Saturday.”

The Kookaburras and Netherlands are back in action tonight and Saturday at Perth Hockey Stadium, with both games starting at 7pm.

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