Commonwealth Games: Day 4 Wrap & Sam Fox Preview

Tasmanians Eddie Ockenden and Josh Beltz helped catapult the Kookaburras to the top of their Commonwealth Games pool with a ruthless 7-2 defeat of New Zealand in Birmingham.

Eddie & Josh

Following on from a 12-0 mauling of Scotland in their opening match, the result leaves Australia as the only side with a 100 per cent record as well as a healthy +17 goal difference.
Goals to Blake Govers, Aran Zalewski (two each), Jacob Anderson, Jake Whetton and Nathan Ephraums were enough to see off the Kiwis who hit back through Hugo Inglis and Jake Smith.
They next play South Africa at the University of Birmingham Hockey Centre at 6am (AEST) on Thursday followed by Pakistan a day later.
Beltz said it was a solid test but the side feels like it is finding its stride.
"New Zealand are always tough and we've played them a lot over the last 18 months, more than anyone else. I think we both know each other pretty well so it was a good challenge and good to come out on top," he said. "We're scoring field goals and PCs and we want to continue that because we know we've got some tough games up ahead.
"Two games in there's stuff that we can improve on and stuff we definitely need to sharpen up before hopefully some finals, but we're on the way.
"The scoreline is one thing but we want to come out here and do really well in this tournament, it's another opportunity to improve."
The 28-year-old from Hobart played a swash-buckling role through the middle of the ground, frequently breaking up opposition moves and beginning counter-attacks.
"We've got a bit of flexibility in our positions," Beltz explained. "My role is to defend and tackle and chase down and hopefully have some impact going forward as well so I've got a bit of license in that respect."
Although making his Commonwealth Games debut, Beltz has Champions Trophy, Oceania Cup and Australian Hockey League successes to his name plus an Olympic silver medal and said Birmingham represented a fresh experience.
"It's different from Tokyo. Having family and friends over here is really special. I love that part of it. It makes it a bit tricky because you want to see them but you've got to do your recovery and stuff as well. I love the team aspect and the Team Australia vibe, it's really good."

Ariarne Titmus cruised into the final of the 800m.
Having already added 200m and 4x200m relay to her three gold medals from 2018, the Launceston freestyle specialist continued her dominant form at Sandwell Aquatics Centre.
Titmus, 21, clocked 8:36.17 in winning her heat by 4:12 from relay teammate Kiah Melverton.
Fellow Aussie Lani Pallister qualified fastest from the first heat in 8:32.67.
The final is on Wednesday morning at 6.15am (AEST).

Tasmanian mountain biker Sam Fox has heaped praise on coach John Gregory and mentor Dan McConnell as he prepares to make his Commonwealth Games debut.
Among three Australians selected for the cross-country mountain bike events on Wednesday, Fox said he was grateful to have so much experience in his corner.
“John’s great,” he said of John Gregory, a former elite mountain biker who raced with Cadel Evans and is now a sports scientist at the Tasmanian Institute of Sport,
“I believe Cadel called him ‘The driver’ because he just keeps pushing on. He was an incredible rider in his day and still is. He’s been racing my dad in the state series and always smokes him!
“He’s also an incredible coach, he has race experience and an analytical mind and just loves to dive into data. It’s been really nice to have him to bring my racing up to another level and to be able to keep learning from him.”
The Launceston Mountain Bike Club member, who contested two junior world championships, won Australian all-schools and under-23 titles before hitting the ruthless World Cup circuit this year, said it achieved a long-held dream to be selected for a Commonwealth Games alongside fellow debutant Zoe Cuthbert and four-time Olympian Daniel McConnell, both of ACT.
“It’s always been hard to tell with selections because they are quite discretionary in mountain biking. It depends on what their plan is. Dan and myself are going but a lot of other riders were also deserving such as Cam Ivory while Matt Dinham switched his focus to the road.”
Fox, who will compete five days before his 22nd birthday, said McConnell brings a wealth of experience after winning a bronze medal in Glasgow and coming seventh on the Gold Coast.
“Dan is a bit of a mentor to help me get the most from this Commonwealth Games. I think he is still the only Aussie to have won a World Cup and has such a great depth of knowledge in mountain biking so great for us other Aussies to be able to learn from him.
“He’s had some really good results so is a perfect person to learn from.”
Both men’s and women’s races will be held at Cannock Chase Forest on a challenging course in an area of outstanding natural beauty half an hour north of Birmingham.
“It will be nice to race in Australian colours and have international competition and great to compete against some of the biggest names in the sport and the Commonwealth has some really strong riders. The guy who came third in one of the World Cup races is from South Africa, the winner of two other races is from GB and New Zealand have three that are podium level in the World Cup so it will be an interesting race."
“I have never ridden or raced in the UK so it will be my first experience. It will also be the first race I’ve had that’s live-streamed so my family can watch back home.”