IMAGE | Michael Willson
Kookaburras legend Mark Knowles was sent into retirement a happy man as Australia beat New Zealand 2-0 in the Commonwealth Games gold medal match.
Knowles played strongly in his 325th and last match of his 15-year international career as Australia maintained their standing as the kings of the Commonwealth, securing their sixth men’s hockey gold from as many attempts.
Knowles did, however, fall short of nailing the fairytale punchline when he took a penalty stroke with five minutes to play but lifted it just above the bar.
Teammates swooped on the match ball at full-time and gave it to their captain.
“We did it in front of an amazing crowd. My little girl is asleep somewhere, my parents are so stoked, my wife was far more nervous than me. I just wanted to take it all in.
“I feel completely at ease with my decision, this is the right time.
“I have been given amazing honours if my time, being the flag bearer was one that stands out.”
New Zealand were up for the fight early and Australia had to work hard to snare the first gold in the second quarter when Aaron Kleinschmidt glided one past the keeper as if he was giving slips practice at cricket training.
Australia swept to a 2-0 lead just before halftime when Matt Dawson arrowed a drive into the right side of the net off a defender’s stick.
Knowles was off the ground at the time but embraced coaching staff and teammates in the dugout as he sensed the road to victory was almost complete – and it was.
The Kookas claimed the Trans-Tasman bragging rights, an unprecedented sixth Commonwealth gold and a fairytale ending for one of the greats – Mark Knowles.
“It’s a beautiful night, couldn’t have scripted it better,” he said afterwards.