2014 World Hockey League, Delhi, India

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World Hockey League : Finals Report

The first ever Hockey World League ended today with the Netherlands being crowned champions. New Zealand took the silver medal and England the bronze. Current world number 2 side Australia finished a disappointing fourth.

New Zealand v The Netherlands 2-7 (0-3)

The Netherlands looked comfortable and cruised easily to a 7-2 victory over the New Zealand Black-Sticks. Such a high scoring game was a little unexpected in a final between two of the top teams in the world, although The Netherlands were always a firm favorite to lift the title.

Dutch captain Robert van der Horst said: “This was a very good result, we knew we were able to play hard, and we needed to stick to our game plan, which is speeding up and skilful hockey. However the final score of 7-2 is unbelievable.”

Constantijn Jonkers (17') scored the first of his three goals from an almost impossible angle past Devon Manchester in the Black Sticks goal.The Netherlands turned up the pressure in the last 15 minutes of the first half, winning two penalty corners and keeping the Black Sticks pinned in their half of the pitch. Billy Bakker added a secon for the Orange Men in the 23 minute as the men in black struggled to cope with the ferocity of the Dutch attack.The Netherlands third goal came on the stroke of half time when a ball fired in from the midfield found Jonkers who deflected the ball past Manchester.

In the second half, the Netherlands started where they finished with a blistering start. Bob de Voogd put the Netherlands 4-0 up in the 36 minute followed by and then Steve Edwards in the 37 minute to put the Black Sticks on the score sheet at 4-1.The game continued to be very open, with both teams seeking long passes to penetrate the defence, but again it was the Netherlands who made pressure tell, Rogier Hofman 45 minute scoring the fifth goal and putting the game all but out of the Black Sticks reach.Edwards scored his second for the Black Sticks but then Bakker added his second, again a field goal that bounced around the circle before the tall Dutchman fired it home. Minutes later Jonker got his third goal after running onto a ball fired into the circle and tipping it home.

Player of the tournament Robbert Kemperman said that “It is a great feeling, we really wanted that win, I am really proud and everyone put an effort into the win."Asked about his individual award, Kemperman said that it was a “nice extra.”Black Sticks skipper Dean Couzins admitted that he felt “pretty disappointed” after the loss, but said that when the team had a chance to reflect on the overall performance they would be pleased with the steps they had taken.This was a sentiment echoed by coach Colin Batch. “We didn’t come out to play in the first half, but we were much better in the second half. By then it was too late and we were hit by the goals either side of the half. But, we never expected a silver medal and it is a big step forwards for the team.”

The winning coach Paul van Ass said: “We are heading back to the top again. We are really pleased with the way this tournament has gone, especially with wins over Germany and Australia.” He added that with results such as India beating Germany and Argentina‘s win against the Netherlands early in the tournament, the gap between the teams was closing.

For more information on NZL v NED click here.

England v Australia 2-1 (1-1)

Australia must have been bitterly disappointed to have let this game slip through their finges as they dominated the game from the start. Never the less, England were first to draw blood when Tom Carson (13’) converted a pass from close range but the Kookaburras fought back immediately thanks to a Glenn Turner (16’) strike.The world champions put a lot of pressure on the English defence but goalkeeper George Pinner pulled off some tremendous saves and it was England team-captain Barry Middleton (54’) who broke the deadlock, deflecting a pass by Ashley Jackson into the goal making it 2-1.

Australia continued to hammer away at the England goal in vain. They seemed to have lost confidence with their short corner routine which was continually thwarted by a determined England defence.

Their last chance to equalise was from a penalty corner awarded in the last minute. Glenn Turner’s shot found its way into the goal but umpire Roel van Eert called the video umpire to check. The video umpire’s decision was no goal and England won 2-1.Hero Man of the Match Iain Lewers, said: "We have come a long way in the past nine months. We were very disappointed in the semi finals, but we did really well to come back." George Pinner, who is celebrating his 27th birthday added: "Today was the team you saw in the first four games. It was agonising to lose in the semi finals on a shoot out, so it really shows the calibre of this team to pick itself up. The main thing that we did today was defend bravely. We know that games can be won through penalty corners, so we have made it our focus not to concede so many."

Ric Charlesworth, the Australian coach, said: "We were too loose at the back. We allowed them to score from very few chances and we didn't put our chances away as we should have done. But, it has been a great experience, especially for the younger guys. They have had a chance to experience playing against very tough opposition."

Semi Final Report

The finals of the Hero Hockey World league will be fought out between New Zealand and The Netherlands. World Number 2 team Australia will take on England for the bronze medal. Both semi-finals were hard fought matches.

England had beaten New Zealand 5-1in the round games and were favorites to go through to the finals. New Zealand had different plans however and held England to a draw in normal time. The Kiwis held firm in the penalty shoot-out downing England 7 goals to 6 and going through to the inaugural Hockey World League final.

Hero Man of the Match Simon Child said We were really disappointed with our first match against England, losing 1-5, so we are pleased to have turned that around."

The New Zealanders began the match in fine form and earned four penalty corners in quick succession but all attempts were thwarted by the England keeper George Pinner.

In the 12th minute, Marcus Child converted the first goal for the Black Sticks before England came back with a goal of their own from Harry Martin in the 23 minute. Martin dived at full streach to convert a cross from Mark Gleghorn. Early in the second half England once again hit the front when Gleghorn fired home from the right side of the circle to give England the lead. The Kiwis hit back again in the 61st minute and 62nd minute with 2 quick fire goals from Jeness and Inglis. 2 minutes later Ashley Jackson scored the equalizer for England to tie up the game once again. That was the way the game finished in normal time.

A penalty shoot-out ensued and the scores were again all even after the initial 5 penalty shuttles taken by each team.

England coach, Bobby Crutchley, said: "I thought the shoot out would last forever, but that shows the high quality. The pressure under which both teams played in the shoot out was impressive. I am not totally happy with today's performance." And winning coach Batch said: "We are doing well on shoot outs, it was the difference between winning or losing. The shoot out lasts so long because the players are technically good and the goal keepers are getting better and better. Devon Manchester was outstanding. After our poor start, a lot of people will be surprised to see us in the final."

New Zealand will be joined by the Netherlands in the final after they won their semi final 4-3 against Australia. Constantijn Jonker (12’) opened the scoring at the beginning of the first half when his reverse stick shot found its way into the net and the Dutch doubled their lead when Mink van der Weerden’s (20’) dragflick left the Aussie keeper Tyler Lovell stranded.

The match swung Australia's way in the second half. The first Kookaburra goal came out of two minutes of intense Aussie pressure on the Dutch goal and Kieran Govers (42’) was able to capitalize on a penalty corner. Five minutes later Russell Ford (47’) levelled the score to 2-2 when deflecting a long pass into Jaap Stockmann’s goal. The world champions fought hard to get another one and it came courtesy of Govers (55’) who fired home a penalty corner. This was his sixth goal in this competition making him the new top scorer of the Hero Hockey World League Final.

Jeroen Hertzberger (62’) brought the Netherlands back into the race by equalising from open play. With four minutes remaining van der Weerden (66’) put the game beyond Australia’s reach when converting his second penalty corner. Hero Man of the Match, Van der Weerden said: "It was a great game, we all played well, and when necessary we fought back very well. Australia played a great game." Bob de Voogd added: "We knew that Australia would press in the second half, but we reacted in time and didn't panic."

Speaking about the forthcoming final match against New Zealand de Voogd said: "We haven't played New Zealand yet, but they are like Australia, straight forward and direct. We need to stick to our game plan." The Australian captain, Mark Knowles, said: "When you play in a semi final you always want to win. We played with courage, but we also gave them some easy options."

Govers said: "This tournament has been a massive learning curve. We had some new players in our squad so it was good for them to be exposed to playing some of the best players in the world." Both Govers and Knowles said they were looking forward to tomorrow's match against England for third place.

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