After two days of competition, the Pool B points table has taken a predictable look with the top two seeds, Argentina and Australia, moving into positions of strength after a pair of victories in Madrid today.
The world number two and four have a perfect record after two matches and have forced the chasing pack of teams into the unwanted position of having little margin for error in their coming matches.
The points table is almost following the Sahara WorldHockey Team Rankings, with Argentina and Australia followed by Korea, South Africa, Japan and USA.
In the opening match of the day, Korea wasted a dozen penalty corner chances before finally settling for a scoreless draw with South Africa, a result that allowed Australia and Argentina to slide into the top two positions by themselves.
Korea’s inability to find the net despite an overwhelming dominance might be a crucial factor in the determination of the semi finalists in a weeks’ time, with the world number seven looking as the main danger to the favoured pair.
Korea would dearly love Argentina’s penalty corner battery, with the South Americans adding another three against Japan today to complement the pair they scored against USA yesterday.
After Japan pressured their defence early, Argentina pulled away with two quick goals to effectively end their challenge.
Japan fought gamely and were rewarded with two goals in the final minute of play – the second scored after the full time whistle from a penalty corner.
In the middle match of day two, Australia controlled USA in the second half especially before eventually recording an impressive two-goal victory.
The turning point of the match arrived two minutes before half time when captain Nikki Hudson scored a brilliant reverse stick goal from the top of the circle to give her team the lead at the break.
After half time, Australia applied consistent pressure to the USA defence which created turnovers and denied them an opportunity to get back into the contest
Pool A resumes tomorrow with three second round matches. Play starts at 14:00 with a clash between England and the Netherlands.
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