James Carson’s late winner ensured Wales finished their men’s hockey campaign on a high with a 3-2 victory over South Africa.
The Cardiff & Met product struck in the 59th minute to clinch ninth place for Zak Jones’ squad – matching the final placing of the women’s team.
Carson bagged two goals in the game at the Gold Coast Hockey Centre with Gareth Furlong adding the other.
The 23-year-old said Carson: “It was a good team performance.
“We didn’t start particularly well, but we stuck to our principles and we knew if we played the way we could, then the result would take care of itself.
“The last couple of matches we’ve conceded late goals, so it was our time to score a late goal.
“We had quite a hard group and we put up some fantastic performances in all of the games, really.
“It was disappointing to finish last in our group and we were like ‘let’s really show them what we can do’ in our final game.
“The fact we competed with England and India, and we really pushed them, it sends out a statement to the hockey world.
“And hopefully now we can play against better teams. If you play against the better teams, then you’re going to get better.
“The Welsh support has been fantastic, it’s been phenomenal. It’s not easy to come all the way over here, it takes a lot of money and a lot of commitment, so it’s a huge credit to all the fans.
“They’ve made a fantastic effort, lots of cheering. I hope they had a good time. I think they had a good time from what they’ve been telling us, and I think we did them proud.”
Ryan Crowe gave South Africa the lead with Furlong levelling on 27 minutes before Carson put Wales ahead in the third period.
Dayaan Cassiem levelled before Carson netted from a penalty corner to give Wales victory against a team ranked nine places higher than them in the world at 15.
Surbiton’s Furlong said: “We’ve pushed some of the top teams a lot closer than we did in Glasgow.
“We were quite a young group, but we had a rebuild after Glasgow, and losing by one goal to India (3-4) and England (2-3) shows how far we’ve come.
“The challenge is now for the next four years to see if we can go a little bit further.
“We didn’t play our best hockey today, but it was brilliant to grind out a result, especially against a decent side like South Africa. We’re happy to come away with the win.”
Coach Jones admitted Wales were fired up having come so close against the likes of England when they led by two goals – and the very early start.
He said: “No one wants to be playing at 8.30am in the morning, getting up at 5am.
“But I think we felt we probably deserved a bit from the tournament, so we tried to bring that into this last game and finish on a high and prove we had learned stuff from the other games.
“I think we’ve made some massive strides over the last 18 months. To be honest, I think it’s playing at this level of competition more often, that’s the bottom line for us. You only learn from being in those situations over and over again.”