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Belgium v. Ireland – 12:30
New Zealand v. Spain – 14:30
Australia v. India – 17:00
Netherlands v. France – 20:00
India – New Zealand 3-3 (0-1 halftime)
It was clear that the final day of Group B action at the Rabobank Hockey World League Semi-Final would be a dog fight with the four teams all separated by only three points. New Zealand and India kicked off the grand finale with a hard fought 3-3 draw.
It looked early on like it would be a high-scoring affair when New Zealand’s Marcus Child fired in the 1-0 goal just six minutes into the game. But after the initial strike goals were at a premium as the teams had nothing to show for their back-and-forth efforts. New Zealand was the better team of the half, but India stayed tough on defense and allowed just the one goal.
The second half was an entirely different story from the first as the goals started flowing on both sides of the field. India came out of the break fired up and immediately mounted a 2-1 lead with a field goal and penalty corner coming just a minute apart.
New Zealand reacted quickly and equalized the game at two when Stephen Jenness scored one of the best goals of the tournament with a diving deflection. But the stalemate lasted only two minutes when India’s Kothajit Singh took advantage of confusion in front of the New Zealand net to score the go-ahead 3-2 goal.
With seven minutes to go, New Zealand was given the golden chance to tie the game, but Dean Couzins penalty stroke was stopped by Indian goalie Sreejesh. But New Zealand quickly atoned for the missed chance when Blair Hilton scored the 3-3 goal two minutes later.
The Blair goal would stand through the last five minutes of play as the game ended in the 3-3 draw. Before the match Phil Burrows was honored for playing in his 300th international game with New Zealand.
Netherlands – Ireland 5-0 (2-0 halftime)
The Dutch took first place in Group B at the Rabobank Hockey World League with a 5-0 win over Ireland. The win means that the host nation will take on France, which finished in fourth place in Group A, in Wednesday’s quarterfinal. At the other end of the spectrum, the loss pushed the Irish into last place in Group B and they will meet Group A winner, Belgium.
It was a must-win game for both teams with Group B being a closely contested group throughout the week. A win for either side meant a major turn of fortune for the men’s quarterfinal games. But in the end, there were no Cinderella finishes as #3 Netherlands dispatched #15 Ireland with relative ease.
The Dutch got things rolling 12 minutes into action when Rogier Hofman fed a beautiful baseline pass to Jelle Galema who was waiting at point blank range for the 1-0 marker. Oliver Polkamp fed a drop pass to Constantyn Jonker who doubled the lead with nine minutes left in the half as the Dutch were in full control of the match.
The Dutch played a game of cat-and-mouse in the second half and were content to simply hold the Irish at bay rather than go for the goals. It wasn’t until the late stages that they turned on the offense a little. Jeroen Hertzberger when he dribbled the ball the distance for the 3-0 goal and two minutes later Hofman added his first goal of the game and the icing on the cake came from Hertzberger when he scored with time expired on a penalty corner to bring the final to 5-0.
Ireland’s Ronan Gormley was honored before the match for becoming the most-capped player ever for the men’s Irish National Team by reaching 169 games. He is also the player to captain the most games with 108.
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