Hockey World League Final: Aussies storm into title clash

Hockey World League Final: Aussies storm into title clash
He scored the second goal of the night to give Australia a two-goal cushion in their crunch semifinal tie against Netherlands in the Hockey World League Final here. Later, he also saw his side squander the advantage to some sloppy defending. But midfielder Daniel Beale was not done yet.

Forty-two minutes on the clock, the 22-year-old midfielder made inroads into the Dutch defence and found Matt Gohdes with his pass. Gohdes, who has enjoyed a fruitful time in Raipur so far, gracefully obliged and slotted in his second goal of the tournament as Australia beat the Netherlands 3-2 after a pulsating 60 minutes of hockey to book their place in the final of Sunday.

The Kookaburras, who dominated the opening minutes of the game with their free-flowing attacking game, went ahead in the eighth minute of the tie.

Gifted a penalty corner, drag-flicker Jeremy Hayward extracted a save from the Dutch goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann. But the FIH goalkeeper for the year couldn’t do much when Jamie Dwyer pounced on to the rebound to find Dylan Wotherspoon who directed the ball into the goal.

With their noses ahead, the Aussies continued to bombard the opposition with constant waves of attack. While Dwyer came close in the 18th minute with a cheeky hit that missed the goal by fractions, Gohdes tested the ’keeper with a ferocious strike from the centre.

Though Stockmann could parry away most of the threats, he had no answers to Beale’s attempt in the 22nd minute as once again, it was their awful defending at the short corner that let the Rober van der Horst-led side down.

Failing to clear their line after Stockmann had pushed of a Hayward drag-flick, Beale punished the Dutch for their poor defending to slot in Australia’s second goal of the game.

Not deterred by the two goals, the Dutch stuck to their plan and tried to break the Australian defence with their pass-and-move game.

The move eventually tasted success as the Aussies crumbled under pressure and allowed the Dutch to come back with strikes from Constantijn Jonker and Mirco Pruijser in the 29th and the 33rd minutes respectively. But that was not enough to spoil the Aussie party as Beale, who was electric in the midfield with his movements and passing, returned to haunt the Dutch as he orchestrated the winning move to ensure that his side played the Sunday’s final.

“It’s really a good feeling to give a performance like that for your team. And then in games like these it’s even more special,” said Beale. “Netherlands are a really good side and they showed their quality today. While it looked easy in the beginning, they made it difficult as the game progressed. We just had to stick to our game and stayed composed. Conceding those two goals left us back, but we stayed to our plan and that helped us win,” he added.

DH News Service

Semifinal result: Australia: 3 (Dylan Wotherspoon 8th, Daniel Beale 22nd, Matt Gohdes 42nd) bt Netherlands: 2 (Constantijn Jonker 29th, Mirco Pruijser 33rd).

Classification match (5-6 positions): Argentina: 4 (Pedro Ibarra 5th, 17th, Gonzalo Peillat 14th, 54th) bt Great Britain: 2 (Simon Mantell 50th, Phil Roper 57th).

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