The Netherlands clinched the 2nd Semi-Final from the Kookaburras by 4-3 to set up summit clash against New Zealand at the Hero Hockey World League Final in New Delhi, which will be played at 2000 IST on 18th Jan (Full Schedule Here).
Kookaburras lost narrowly to the Netherlands in a game that saw them fight back from two goals down to lead 3-2 but ultimately succumb 4-3, while New Zealand defeated England in a nerve wrecking shoot-out by 7-6 on sudden death after seeing 3-3 scoreline at full time hooter.
Two penalty corner strikes from Kieran Govers either side of Russell Ford’s superb long range deflection had helped the Kookaburras fight their way into the lead after being 2-0 down at half time. But goals in the final ten minutes from Jeroen Herzberger and Mink van der Weerden consigned the Aussie men to the third place playoff.
There they’ll meet England who lost on a shoot-out to New Zealand’s Blacksticks after an entertaining 3-3 draw.
Speaking after the win, Paul van Ass, Netherlands coach said, “We had a good fight today. We knew this would be an exciting match as Australia is a strong opponent and our team is in good form too. They kept pushing us to defence but we came back pretty well and maintained our lead.”
Kookaburras coach Ric Charlesworth said afterwards. “It was an exciting match. We’re disappointed, naturally. Throughout the tournament our defence has been leaky, we’ve given up goals just through our errors and we’ve given up three today. It’s hard to win the game when you do that. We had an own goal [credited to Netherlands’ Jeroen Hertzberger], we had the ball in the circle, and the last one we kicked the ball straight at an attacker when we could have played the ball anywhere. That’s loose and it’s not good enough and you get hurt when that happens.
“It was a good fightback and then in the end we constructed the best chance of the game and from point blank we range we went over the top. We’ve got a lot of things we can fix but I think that it’s our own fault. We had the opportunities but we didn’t take them and we made too many errors.”
Charlesworth was referring to an opportunity that fell to Liam De Young in the last minute of the match as he could only sweep the ball over the goal sliding to meet Jake Whetton’s pass.
As in Wednesday’s quarter-final against India the Kookaburras found themselves 2-0 down just over midway through the first half. First Constantijn Jonker took advantage as the Kookaburras turned over possession, sending a tomahawk high into the goal, before Mink van der Weerden unleashed a rocket penalty corner that left goalkeeper Tyler Lovell with no chance.
Early in the second half Kieran Govers halved the deficit with a low penalty corner flick that Jaap Stockmann could only parry into the ground as it flew beyond him into the goal. And five minutes later Russell Ford converted to level at 2-2 with a pinpoint long range deflection from Tristan White’s pass into the circle.
The Kookaburras were appealing for a penalty stroke with 15 minutes remaining but had to settle for a penalty corner, which Govers subsequently dispatched into the bottom left corner to turn the match on its head. It was the New South Wales man’s 40th strike for his country.
However, there was to be a sting in the tail for the Aussie men as the Netherlands equalised with eight minutes remaining – Jeroen Hertzberger credited with the goal from a cut-back – before a second Mink van der Weerden drag flick found its way beyond substitute goalkeeper George Bazeley.
De Young’s late chance almost forced a shoot-out but it the Dutch goal remained untroubled.
Afterwards, Charlesworth added, “We made too many errors in our defence, which is disappointing. Today is a further example of that and if you do that you get hurt. But our team will be much, much better in five months’ time [at the World Cup].
“We’ve come here to test our players and we’ve found out quite a lot about them. Playing in the sort of game that tonight was is a great experience for them and they learn a lot from that.”
Tim Deavin sat out the match after sustaining a hip injury earlier in the week.
The Kookaburras will play against England at 5:45pm local time on Saturday, 11:15pm AEDT, 8:15pm AWST. The Netherlands will meet New Zealand in the final at 8pm local time. (Full schedule here)