The defending champions, Kookaburras, will face the hosts in the chance to defend their 2010 title in Sunday’s men’s Rabobank Hockey World Cup 2014 final in The Hague. Australia defeated Argentina by 5-1 in semi-final, while Netherlands edged past England by 1-0 to set up two Aussie-Dutch finals this weekend with the Kookaburras following their female counterparts, as the Hockeyroos take on the hosts in the final of Women’s Competition.
In Semi Final 1: After a good chance in the opening minute for Ashley Jackson, England was under pressure for most of the half as the Netherlands played their free attacking style of hockey. England created chances on the counter attack, but it was the hosts, through penalty corner specialist Mink van der Weerden, who took the goal advantage going into the break with a brilliant drag-flick on 31 minutes.
England came out fighting in the second half and both sides created chances from some great link-up play, but the Netherlands still had the upper hand with more circle penetrations and more shots on goal. England had a chance to equalise with a couple of penalty corners during the half, but the Dutch defence, led by their Captain Robert van der Horst, thwarted both Jackson’s and Gleghorne’s attempts.
At the other end of the field George Pinner had to be at his best to keep the Netherlands from scoring again; van der Weerden, Billy Bakker and Rogier Hofman all tested England’s defence. As the clock ticked down Crutchley’s side pushed up looking for the vital equaliser, but it wasn’t to be and as the final hooter went it was the fans in orange who celebrated their team’s 1-0 victory and the chance to play for gold on Sunday.
In 2nd Semi Final: Penalty corner prowess proved decisive with 21 year-old Northern Territorian Jeremy Hayward bagging a double with goals either side of half time. Set piece flicks from Kieran Govers and Chris Ciriello, and Jake Whetton’s inch perfect tomahawk just before the break sealed the Australian men’s fifth World Cup final and a shot at a third gold medal.
Kookaburras coach Ric Charlesworth, who won the tournament as a player in 1986, said afterwards, “I think we played a really, really solid first half and we scored a couple of corners, which gives you a boost, always. We made chances, we got penetration, we controlled the ball…I was pleased with that.
“We continued in the second half, we lost focus near the end – that’s always a worry – but it was a pretty solid performance. I’m delighted with that. We knew that Argentina had some very dangerous players in their team we had to nullify them and then do our thing and I was pleased with that.”
For the fifth consecutive game the Kookaburras opened the scoring inside seven minutes. Kieran Govers’ fourth minute penalty corner broke the deadlock and the advantage was doubled by Jeremy Hayward in the 22nd minute. Having comfortably seen off two Argentine set pieces, Jake Whetton made it 3-0 to Australia shortly before the break with a superb tomahawk goal that left him celebrating on the floor inside the circle.
Chris Ciriello’s flick into the bottom left corner for 4-0 continued the Kookaburras’ 100% corner conversion rate before Hayward netted his second and Australia’s fifth.
At the other end, youngster Gonzalo Peillat showed why he has been the talk of the tournament with a well taken powerful penalty corner goal of his own, penetrating a solid Australian defence for only the second time in the tournament.
Matthew Swann cleared off the line late on as Argentina broke clear five minutes from time but by then the Kookaburras’ progress was already all but confirmed.
Australia will line up against the Netherlands in Sunday’s final (23:15 AEST) with the match shown live on ABC 2. The hosts won their place in the final as they overcame England 1-0 in a tight contest and will now be looking to equal Pakistan’s record of four World Cup titles.
Speaking about the prospect of playing the Dutch, Kookaburras captain Mark Knowles said, “They’re in the World Cup final so they’re obviously in good form. Both teams are the form teams in the competition and what you want is for the best two teams to be playing in the final. The great thing we have here is we have that in the men’s and the women’s.
“It’s been a huge goal of our group since London. We were very disappointed with how things finished [at the London Olympics], how things went. Certainly it’s been rolling along, there’s been some ups and downs but the confidence that the coaching staff put in us as players and the hard work that we see day in, day out back in our training environment is what makes it easier to play in these matches.
“I’m very confident with our group and what we have here and I think our players are slowly starting to believe more and more that they’re right in this tournament. Playing well in big games is what it’s all about. We get another chance Sunday to do that.”
Acknowledging the specialness of both Australian teams reaching their respective World Cup finals, Knowles added, “That’s very rare in sport and we’re very, very thankful and happy as hockey players in Australia to have the men and the ladies in the final. It’s going to be a very nice weekend for everyone in Australia.”
Prior to the Kookaburras’ final on Sunday, the Hockeyroos will take on the Dutch women at 23:15 AEST on Saturday in the women’s final, a match that can be seen live on ABC 2.