(Photo: Frank Uijlenbroek)

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Men's Pool B

Netherlands – India 2-0 (2-0 halftime)

The Netherlands men earned their first win of the Rabobank Hockey World League Semi Finals competition with a superb victory over India. First half goals from Billy Bakker and Jeroen Hertzberger proved to be enough for the win, moving the Dutch level on points with New Zealand at the top of Pool B.

The home favourites started the match in lightning fashion, taking the lead inside two minutes thanks to a sensational goal from Billy Bakker that delighted the large partisan crowd.  The livewire attacker unleashed a ferocious reverse stick shot from a tight angle that rocketed past Indian goalkeeper Sreejesh at breakneck speed to give The Netherlands a perfect start to the contest. The Dutch were in irresistible form in the first period, and could easily have been further ahead were it not for the excellence of Sreejesh. Eventually though, The Netherlands soon added to their tally from the penalty spot, with Jeroen Hertzberger making no mistake with an expert finish.

India grew in confidence as the half progressed, but it was the Dutch who remained the superior outfit and constantly threatened with some impressive, high paced attacking moves before the half time hooter sounded.  

The Indian resurgence continued in the second half with a trio of hard earned penalty corners, but the Asians could not find a way past ace Netherlands goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann. Sandeep Singh came closest to netting for the Indians with a powerful penalty corner drag-flick, but Stockmann dived to his left to make a wonderful save with his glove. It proved to the nearest that India came to making their mark on the score-sheet, with The Netherlands claiming all three points from the contest. 

New Zealand – Ireland 4-2 (1-1 halftime)

New Zealand overcame a stern challenge to emerge victorious against Ireland in the first match of Day 3 at the Rabobank Hockey World League Semi Finals in Rotterdam. The Black Sticks fought back from a goal down to claim a 4-2 triumph, putting them onto four points in Pool B.

The first half of the early morning contest was energetic, error-strewn and extremely physical, with both teams guilty of making mistakes. New Zealand arguably had the better of the early exchanges, but it was the Irish who drew first blood when Alan Sothern scored a penalty stroke after his initial penalty corner drag-flick hit a defender on the goal-line in the 18th minute. New Zealand hit back five minutes later when an accurate pass into the circle was touched home from close range by veteran star Phil Burrows.  

Towards the end of the half the Black Sticks were reduced to ten players when Arun Panchia was given a ten minute yellow card suspension for a foul on Andrew McConnell. Panchia returned to the action early in the second half, triggering a period of New Zealand domination which resulted in a penalty corner conversion for Nick Haig in the 47th minute, although the Irish responded immediately thanks Michael Watt, who produced a blistering turn and shot to tie the scores.

Despite conceding, New Zealand remained very much in charge and moved the score to 3-2 when Blair Hilton tapped in from close range following a fine attacking move down the right. The game was put beyond Ireland’s reach in the 65th minute thanks to Andy Hayward, who ripped an unstoppable penalty corner drag-flick into the net to seal a fine win for the Black Sticks.