With odds stacked against them and Captain Sardar Singh not playing the semi-final match today, Rupinder Pal Singh and team showed their gallant character to take a spot in the Finale game tomorrow. Trailing the game 2-0 within 15 minutes of the game and 2-1 at half time, India took it on them to not allow the opponents to take home a win and showcased their intent in the second half which left the opponents stunned and trailing.
The match went underway with the Kiwis taking immediate possession of the ball and attacking the D of India. In the very 2nd minute into the game, Simon Child scored for his team through a field goal. P R Sreejesh immediately asked for a video referral against the goal and which was turned down, resulting in New Zealand taking the early lead over India.
Moving on from the early setback, India in its bid to level the scores kept the goalkeeper and opponents defence busy but somehow missed out on cashing on in the opportunities. In the 18th minute New Zealand were awarded with a penalty corner and cashed in on the opportunity when Nick Haig scored, taking the lead to 2-0.
It was finally in the 28th minute when India earned a penalty corner. In a bid to save the goal, Dean Couzins ended up giving India a penalty stroke which was taken and executed by Rupinder Pal Singh. This took the score to 2-1 with the Black Sticks leading. Showing urgency in the last few minutes of the first half, India tried to equalize before going into the break but were unsuccessful and the score card read 2-1 with India trailing.
The second half started with India pressing to equalise the score but were met by the good defence of the opponents. In the 42nd minute, attacking the semi-circle of the opponents, a brilliant pass by Manpreet Singh was met with a superb touch by Ramadeep Singh which took the ball past New Zealand’s goalkeeper, taking the game to the equalizer. This left the Black Sticks stunned as they finally lost hold on the game. From here it was anyone’s game and India realised the importance of this, looked on fire as they kept their attack on the D of the opponents and pressed to take the lead in the game.
The lead for India finally came through Akashdeep Singh which took his team in the front for the first time in the match. In the 47th minute Akashdeep Singh’s brilliant dive to put the ball in the goal post helped India take the score card to 3-2. NZ immediately went on the attack on the Indian goal but the high on confidence P R Sreejesh saved for India yet again. India not wanting to lose their dominance on the match ensured good ball possession coupled with maintaining their attack on the opponents. This was complemented with India’s good defence which helped them in keeping the opponents forwards at bay till the end of the game. The good show by all departments by team India helped them maintain their lead, resulting in India winning the semi-final by 3-2 over New Zealand.
In the first semi final: Early goals from Tristan White and Simon Orchard put the Australian men in the driving seat but when Harry Martin halved the deficit for England midway through the second half the men in green and gold looked to have a battle on their hands.
True to character they remained calm under pressure and were rewarded with Chris Ciriello’s penalty corner goal eight minutes from time, his sixth of the tournament. With England chasing the match late on, Eddie Ockenden took advantage of their substitution of goalkeeper George Pinner to score on the breakaway and make sure of Australia’s passage to the final.
In a milestone match for Kiel Brown, who made his 150th international appearance, Wollongong’s Tristan White gave Australia the best possible start as he fired a penalty corner low down the middle to make it 1-0 in the third minute. Just minutes later the lead was almost doubled when Fergus Kavanagh had a swing at a pass in the circle but he failed to connect.
Simon Orchard’s endeavour paid off in the 12th minute when we stole the ball from the stick of Dan Fox inside England’s defensive third before playing a one-two pass with Daniel Beale. Beale’s return put Orchard through on goal and the Maitland man sent a low shot on the reverse into the far corner for 2-0.
Green cards were received by Trent Mitton and Matt Gohdes, and Ashley Jackson of England while Aussie goalkeeper Andrew Charter did well to deny Alistair Brogdon, diving at the Englishman’s feet. The goalkeeper denied the same man soon after before a moment of confusion as Australia briefly appeared to play with 12 men. With the officials’ attention brought to the extra man, captain Mark Knowles was punished with a yellow card and five minute suspension as the rules state.
With Knowles missing England pressed but Australia weathered the storm, albeit losing Daniel Beale for the remainder of the half after the Queensland youngster was hit on the knee by the stick of Jackson. He would return in the second half.
At the other end, Australia were denied the chance to extend their lead with England clearing a late penalty corner.
Both goalkeepers were called into action in the early stages of the second half with Australia’s Andrew Charter thrusting out a toe to divert a cross from the right with Simon Mantell bearing down on him, and England’s Georgie Pinner repelling Matt Gohdes’ strike.
Australia’s lead was halved midway through the second half when David Condon got in behind the Aussie defence and his pass from the back line was bundled over the line by Harry Martin from close range for 2-1. But the defending champions refused to crumble and Chris Ciriello netted his sixth of the tournament with just under ten minutes remaining, shooting low into the bottom left corner to restore Australia’s two goal lead.
There then followed a flurry of yellow cards with Australia’s Matthew Swann and Kieran Govers, and England’s Michael Hoare all sidelined for knocking the ball away after the whistle.
Desperately chasing the game, England removed Pinner and replaced him with an outfield player. With both teams missing suspended players there was plenty of space on the turf and Australia took full advantage with Eddie Ockenden converting for 4-1 from a last minute breakaway.