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HOCKEY - FIH Pro League 25 Feb, 2024

Dutch end Aussies’ unbeaten streak as India finish with victory
Dutch end Aussies’ unbeaten streak as India finish with victory

Sports Bulletin Report

ISLAMABAD: The Netherlands men brought an end to Australia’s unbeaten run in the FIH Hockey Pro League with a methodical performance on the final day of action in Rourkela, India on Sunday.

The 5-3 victory saw the Dutch avenging their loss to the same opposition nine days earlier and also consolidating their top spot in the standings with 26 points from their 12 matches so far. Australia are second with 20 points from their eight matches.

(Men’s) Netherlands beat Australia (5-3): The Netherlands looked composed in their 5-3 win over Australia in what was a clash between the top two sides in the men’s standings. The Australians had the upper hand in the opening minutes and Jacob Anderson opened the scoring for them in the sixth minute, his lightning-fast reactions ensuring he got stick on a deflected pass to tap in at the left post. They lost some momentum through player suspensions and the Dutch got a goal back in the 13th minute, Duco Telgenkamp bunting in from close range after a good team move along the baseline. Telgenkamp added a second from an almost identical position in the 20th, getting a stick in front of his defender to deflect in the acute cross from the left. Neither team could find another goal in the half, although Andrew Charter in the Aussie goal pulled off a good penalty corner double save and then moved quickly to reduce the angle from the third shot to prevent a goal.

The Dutch turned the screws in the third quarter, attacking for long periods and earning seven penalty corners. That allowed Jip Janssen to extend his lead at the top of the goalscoring table with a powerful drag flick in the 35th minute, and Tjep Hoedemakers deflected in from a penalty corner variation to the right post in the 42nd. The Kookaburras threatened a comeback with Tim Brand deflecting in from their first possession of the final quarter, but Terrance Pieters nipped it in the bud with a 48th-minute field goal. Jeremy Hayward scored a big drag flick for Australia seven minutes later, but the Netherlands emerged as comfortable winners against the previously unbeaten Kookaburras.

(Men’s) India beat Ireland (4-0): Hosts India put in a clinical performance to beat Ireland 4-0 in the final match of the FIH Hockey Pro League mini-tournament in Rourkela. Ireland played positive attacking hockey throughout, but were inaccurate in front of goal and it was India who had the killer touch when it mattered. Nilakanta Sharma opened the scoring in the 14th minute, a penalty corner variation deflecting off the first wave and landing in his arc for a first-time smash. Akashdeep Singh made it two with a deflection from a flat pass across the goal a minute later and India led 2-0 at half-time, although Sreejesh had arguably been the busier goalkeeper.

Sreejesh was called into action again at the start of the second half as Ireland continued to attack without reward. Gurjant Singh then made a great diving deflection to extend India’s lead in the 38th minute and India started taking more control of the match. Goalkeepers Jamie Carr for Ireland and Sreejesh for India had to make important saves throughout the final quarter, and it was Jugraj Singh who closed the book on the mini-tournament with a well-placed drag flick in the final seconds, much to the delight of the home fans.