Australia dominate Netherlands, move to final

Australia defeated defending champions Netherlands 3-2 in a strong performance to secure a spot in the final of the Hockey World League Final.

Dylan Wotherspoon of Australia scored the first goal of the match, in the eighth minute.   -  Getty Images

Netherlands goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann won the Man of the Match award.   -  Getty Images

The match was the same but the result different. Australia avenged their semi-final defeat to defending champions Netherlands — in the inaugural Hockey World League Final last year — with a 3-2 win and a spot in the final here on Friday. Australia had lost 3-4 at the same stage last year.

Decidedly the better team on the day, Australia came out winner in a battle that saw both teams go on the attack from the beginning. The Dutch attempts, however, fizzled out quickly. Scoring a goal each in the first three quarters and defending well against a desperate Dutch in the fourth, the Aussies proved the indifferent form in their league phase was not permanent.

Knowing well that taking an early lead was half the battle won in a tight contest, the Dutch tried to get the first goal in but were thwarted by an alert Andrew Charter in the goal. The Aussies, slow to start off, stepped on the gas after the first five minutes and were almost immediately rewarded. And the supposedly over-the-hill Jamie Dwyer was in the thick of action.

He first put through Trent Mitton, who hit wide. Dwyer then earned the team's first penalty corner, which was saved. He, then, received the corner just inside the circle, controlled the ball and then shot at the goal, deflected in by Dylan Wotherspoon. He was again instrumental in accurately deflecting the ball to an unmarked Daniel Beale in an indirect attempt at penalty corner conversion in the 22nd minute.

The Dutch pulled one back through Constantijn Jonker's rebound hit after Australian goalkeeper Tyler Lovell thwarted Floris van der Linden but even though the European champions tried their best, Australia made it look ordinary. Except for a meagre difference in possession percentage, it was Australia all the way in every department. From shots on target to effecting turnovers to creating scoring chances, Netherlands were a shadow of itself. Even in the final moments and trailing by a single goal, there was no urgency as Australia casually kept passing the ball. The score-line may indicate it was a close contest but on ground, there was only one winner.

In the play-off for the 5-6 spot later on the day, Argentina fell back on their trusted weapon — penalty corners — to win 4-1 as Great Britain failed to stop the charge or manage enough shots of their own. Captain Pedro Ibarra struck two of those while Gonzalo Peillat added two more to his burgeoning kitty.

The result (semi-final): Australia 3 (Dylan Wotherspoon, Daniel Beale, Matthew Gohdes) beat Netherlands 2 (Constantijn Jonker, Mirco Pruijser).

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