Tasmanian captain Jack Welch scores a hat-trick to secure hockey semi-final win at nationals

GOLDEN GUY: Tasmanian captain Jack Welch was in brilliant form on Tuesday to direct his under-21 side into the championship final. Picture: Click on Focus
GOLDEN GUY: Tasmanian captain Jack Welch was in brilliant form on Tuesday to direct his under-21 side into the championship final. Picture: Click on Focus

Tasmania’s turnaround in form has secured the state a spot in the men’s gold-medal game on Wednesday at the Australian under-21 hockey championships.

Back-to-back victories had followed three early losses in the pool stage, but that was still enough to reach the tournament final in Sydney.

The Tasmanians had won through with a 4-3 win against ACT on Tuesday.

Hockey Australia’s decision to ensure all eight teams reached the quarter-finals had given Tasmania a lifeline.

But a comeback win on Monday over New South Wales from two goals down twice renewed confidence.

This was the same group that first earned an under-16 bronze medal in 2013 before silver for the state under-18s three years ago.

Captain Jack Welch had ensured his charges could go one better on the back of a phenomenal hat-trick.

The Australian under-21 representative opened his account at the championship with a sixth-minute goal.

ACT equalised 14 minutes later and took a 2-1 lead in the 26th minute.

But Tasmania hit back hard with two goals inside two minutes off successive short corners.

Hayden Beltz first levelled and Welch restored the lead.

Welch’s third came 22 minutes after half-time to send Tasmania 4-2 up.

ACT were offered a consolation goal in the final minute, but Tasmania advanced to the final with Victoria.

But ACT at least won 2-0 against Tasmania’s women in the classification match.

The Canberrans goaled in 45th and 60th minutes.

Tasmania meets Western Australia for seventh place.