Men progress to semi-final

16 January 2014

The Australian men's hockey team progressed to the semi-finals of the World League Finals tournament after a storming 7-2 victory over their Indian hosts in Delhi on Wednesday night. The result means the team will meet the Netherlands, conquerors of Germany, in the final four clash at 8pm local time on Friday night.

The Aussie men were made to work for their win, however, recovering from 2-0 down to storm to victory. Early goals from India’s Birendra Lakra and Yuvraj Walmiki put the hosts in the driving seat but the Kookaburras calmly worked themselves back into the match, first through Nick Budgeon’s penalty corner and then through Jason Wilson’s superb control. 

On the stroke of half time centurion Glenn Turner, making his 100th appearance for Australia, converted from close range to give the World Champions a 3-2 lead at the break.

Australia began the second half as India had the first and within 12 minutes of the restart their lead had been extended to 6-2. Russell Ford’s near post flick made it 4-2 after excellent running by Simon Orchard before Orchard himself was rewarded with a goal of his own. Ford soon made it 6-2 from close range and once again it was Orchard that created the goal. 

While India continued to threaten late on the Aussies netted a seventh with five minutes remaining; Jake Whetton pounced quickly to dig the ball out from underneath the goalkeeper before flicking it into the net.

Kookaburras Head Coach Ric Charlesworth said afterwards, “It was a messy start but a terrific, solid performance through the middle of the game. Some brilliant hockey was played and anybody who saw that would have been impressed by some of the skill. 

“A lot of goals were so well constructed it was simply a case of pushing into an empty goal. They were the best chances and you don’t usually get so many of them.”

Looking ahead to Friday’s semi-final against the Netherlands he added, “It will be a different sort of game, very tough. We know and expect that.”

Speaking about his 100th appearance for the Kookaburras, Glenn Turner said, “It’s a very proud moment. To be part of such a great sporting team in Australia that’s had so much success – to play 100 games for them is something I never dreamed of. 

“India came out hard like we knew they would, especially with the crowd behind them. We just had to stick to our game plan. It’s tough at times when you’re down two nil but bit by bit we came back and kept scoring a few goals.”

Goal scorer Simon Orchard said afterwards, “I caught fire for five minutes! We knew it would be a battle. We didn’t expect to go down early but once we gained control and held onto the ball a bit more the crowd disappeared in the second half. That’s what we tried to do. We talked about sustained attacking pressure, which is something that we weren’t doing at the start; we were just too end-to-end. 

“There weren’t that many people in here but it was so loud. It’s awesome to play in front of a crowd like that and I think they [India] feed off that a lot, as we would but we just don’t experience things like that in Australia. A few of our guys probably haven’t played in front of a crowd that loud and you struggle to talk to each other, you struggle to communicate and struggle to hear anything.”  

In the other quarter-finals, England overcame Belgium 1-0 while the Netherlands beat Germany 2-1. New Zealand and Argentina drew 2-2 before being separated by a shoot-out competition with the New Zealanders winning through 4-3.

Hockey Australia

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