Australian captain Mitchell Hedges leaps through the air before shooting during his team’s 35-31 final victory over New Zealand.
Australian captain Mitchell Hedges leaps through the air before shooting during his team’s 35-31 final victory over New Zealand. David Nielsen

Aussies on international rise

WHETHER Australia contests next year’s world under-20 handball championships or another international tournament in Europe remains to be decided.

However, after yesterday’s IHF Oceania Challenge Trophy final victory in Ipswich, the future is bright.

Australia completed its unbeaten week-long tournament at the Redbank and Collingwood Park Sports Complex with a 35-31 triumph over New Zealand.

Australian under-20 coach Jason Hoppner said where his newly-formed team plays next will be finalised in coming days.

“Going to the world champs, the level of competition is very high and in that age group (under 20) they are all professional players playing in top leagues around Europe,” the coach said.

“We’ve got an option now which one (international tournament) we go to but it’s important that we just don’t go to the world championships because we made it.

“It’s important that we think about where we want to take this team . . . to get the best competition and opportunities to not only win games but play teams of similar ability.”

After a week playing in Ipswich, Hoppner is confident he has a team showing positive qualities.

“The most satisfying thing was just the fight and the passion they showed for each other,” Hoppner said last night.

“They just never gave up.”

That was demonstrated last Friday when Australia came from four goals down to snatch a last-gasp win over the Kiwis.

In yesterday’s final, the Aussies controlled the play better despite some lapses in concentration.

“It wasn’t pretty but we got there,” Hoppner said.

Tim Anderson again led Australia’s goal scoring with 10.

Captain Mitchell Hedges netted six along with Lucas Frey.

Australian goalkeeper Doug Kors said playing in his first major tournament in Ipswich – and winning – was terrific.

“I think the boys just wanted it more,” Kors said.

“The boys showed passion when we put on the Australian jersey.

“We’re now looking to go to some different tournaments overseas and this could be the future of the sport and we just want to work together.”

In yesterday’s earlier playoffs, Vanuatu finished third after beating Cook Islands 27-20.

In the playoff for fifth and sixth, Samoa beat Solomon Islands 24-10.



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