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CWG: Indian men's hockey team reach semi-finals with 4-1 win over Wales

BALBIR SINGH | August 05, 2022 08:42 AM

BIRMINGHAM: Pool stage comes to a close as South Africa’s men pull off stunning victory to secure semi-final berth, while England’s women win 4 in a row for first time in Commonwealth Games, reports FIH.

The final day of Pool action got underway with New Zealand’s women cruising to victory over South Africa, before England went four wins from four for the first time in the Commonwealth Games with a comfortable win over Wales. The afternoon began with India’s men securing top spot in Pool B, with the second game of the session seeing England put up double figures against Canada. South Africa’s men pulled off a crucial win over New Zealand in the opening game of the evening, ending the Black Sticks chance of a medal. The final Pool match of the games saw Australia maintain their 100% record, setting up a semi-final against hosts England.

India 4 Wales 1 (Pool B men)

India secured top spot in Pool B with a comfortable victory over Wales in what was a crunch tie.

The first quarter began with both sides feeling each other out in a game of massive significance in the race for a semi-final spot. The 15 had little in the way of clear-cut opportunities with both sides choosing to not take massive risks.

The tie was opened up in the second quarter, when Singh Harmanpreet struck twice in the space of a minute from penalty corners to put India in the driving seat. Rocked by a disastrous couple of minutes James Carson and Rupert Shipperley tried to counter-punch but to no avail as the game drifted to half-time with India leading 2-0.

The third quarter saw momentum swing back and forth as India looked to extend their lead, while Wales tried to get a foothold back in the game. However, any hopes of a dramatic comeback victory were dealt a cruel blow when Harmanpreet slotted home from a penalty stroke to get both his and his sides third goal.

Just 3 minutes into the final quarter Singh Gurjant made it 4 for India, before Gareth Furlong pulled one back for Wales. Chances for both sides followed but there would be no further score and the game ended 4-1 to India.

Topping the group, India would have to wait until the evening session to find out who they would be taking on in the semi-final on Saturday. Meanwhile Wales will compete in the 5th and 6th classification game on Sunday.

Singh Harmanpreet (IND): “The boys did a great job. Before the match we decided we had to go for it; whatever opportunity we have to finish it. Overall, the game was good.”

Luke Hawker (WAL): "We would like to have thrown a few more punches and got a little closer to them. They scored a couple of corners at a crucial moment and suffocated us.

"We struggled to get momentum early on and had to do a lot of defending, which took the legs out of us a little bit. Towards the end, we created a couple of opportunities and scored a goal, but it was too little, too late."

South Africa 1 New Zealand 4 (Pool B women)

New Zealand secured second place in Pool B with a consummate victory over South Africa.

The first quarter began with pressure from the Black Sticks as they looked to make sure of their semi-final spot. It was to prove to be a very profitable quarter for New Zealand, as goals from Tessa Jopp, Tyler Lench and Hope Ralph combined to help them race to a 3-0 opening period lead.

Playing with a sense of freedom with their semi-final spot all but secured New Zealand continued to press South Africa. The second quarter featured chances from Megan Hull, Stephanie Dickins, Frances Davies and Olivia Merry, but none could get the ball over the line and the second quarter ended without further Black Sticks damage.

New Zealand appeared to pick up where they left off before the break, creating chance after chance as they looked to improve their goal difference. Just like the second quarter, South Africa’s defence stood strong and yet again kept a clean sheet in the period.

Relentless Black Sticks pressure did eventually tell, when Kaitlin Cotter extended the New Zealand lead to 4 following a penalty corner. With the points very much secure the Black Sticks won’t have minded some of the South African pressure that followed, however they would have been disappointed to see their opponents grab a consolation goal in the 50th minute, Jean-Leigh Du Toit with the strike.

New Zealand will take on England on Friday in the first semi-final, while South Africa will play Wales in the 7th and 8th classification match.

Megan Hull (NZ): “We left a bit in that second half against the Aussies, so there was a lot of fire in the belly to come out hard and stamp our mark on the game.

“We’re really happy with our clinical finishing, and our defence to keep them out.”

England 5 Wales 0 (Pool A women)

England secured their 4th win out of 4 in the Pool, the first time they have ever reached the feat, in a comprehensive win over Wales to set up a semi-final showdown with New Zealand.

It was to prove to be a tight opening 15, with both England and Wales having opportunities to break the deadlock. England did pick up a couple of green cards during the quarter but Wales were unable to capitalise on their women advantage as the period ended goalless.

The breakthrough did come early into the second quarter, Grace Balsdon making no mistake from a penalty stroke after a Beth Bingham block on the line. The lead was doubled when Hannah Martin struck at the near post. A much more clinical quarter had England 2 goals to the good heading into half-time.

England picked up where they left off in the third quarter, 3 minutes into the period it was Balsdon with a superb drag flick following a penalty corner that extended the lead. Despite further chances the scoreboard remained the same as the players took their final break.

A fourth England goal was added 8 minutes into the final quarter, Giselle Ansley striking from a penalty corner. Grace Balsdon was on hand to score England’s 5th and in the process complete her hat-trick 2 minutes before the end of the game as the hosts rampantly secured their perfect record.

England will take on New Zealand in the semi-final, while Wales will face South Africa in the 7th and 8th classification match, both clashes will take place on Friday.

Laura Unsworth (ENG): “Playing against home nations is always an added bit of rivalry.

“It's about riding out the first quarter and then we knew if we stuck to our game plan the goals would come.

“Today set us up nicely. We’re confident, we’re scoring off open play, we’re scoring off corners, and we didn’t give away any corners. So we are in pretty good shape.”

Leah Wilkinson (WAL): "We were just disappointed not to put some early chances away. It potentially could have been a different game, it could have put a little pressure on them.

"The difference today was set plays. That is the difference between a full-time programme where you can spend hours doing it, and maybe where we don't have so much contact time.”

Canada 2 England 11 (Pool B men)

England knew they needed a ginormous win against Canada to nick top spot, starting the game needing 3 points and a massive 14 goal swing to pull it off.

If England were to pull the seemingly impossible off they got off to the perfect start. Phillip Roper getting the scoring underway with just a minute gone. However, unfortunately for England, Canada did not roll over. Not only did they repel a multitude of England attacks, they equalised 4 minutes before the end of the quarter through Brendan Guraliuk.

A dramatic second quarter began with a Nicholas Bandurak goal, followed by a smart finish from Liam Ansell to extend the lead to 3-1. A fourth was added by captain Zachary Wallace 5 minutes later. A flashpoint followed as a confrontation between both sets of players saw Canada’s Balraj Panesar shown a red card for raising his hands to an opponent, while England were temporarily reduced to 9 men as Stuart Rushmere and Christopher Griffiths were shown yellow. A feisty period was brought to a close shortly after.

The third quarter began with England searching for more goals, and they were duly rewarded when Bandurak added another from a penalty corner. England then decided to remove their keeper in the 43rd minute. The score was soon 6-1 when Wallace tucked home a penalty stroke. Roper added another, via a drag flick from a penalty corner before the close of the quarter as England now led 7-1.

Knowing they needed to go for broke in the final 15 minutes England continued to attack with all they had. Bandurak completed his hat-trick in the 50th minute while Stuart Rushmere got on the scoresheet from a penalty corner. England’s tally ticked over into double figures courtesy of Samuel Ward, before Brendan Ward pulled one back for Canada, tapping into a now vacant England goal with England committing to 11 outfield players. Bandurak added his 4th inside the last 90 seconds as England ran out 11-2 winners.

The result means England will have to play the titans of Australia in their semi-final on Saturday. Canada would have to wait until the conclusion of the days play to find out their opponents in the 7th and 8th classification tie.

Nicholas Bandurak (ENG): “We didn’t execute as much as we’d liked to in that first half.

“It was very much just stick to our approaches and the outcome will take care of itself, which thankfully it did, but it wasn’t enough to overturn what was ultimately too big of a deficit.”

Zachary Wallace (ENG): “It was honestly the weirdest game I have ever played in; a mix of them going down to 10 players so early on and us having to score loads of goals.

“We took our keeper off and just went for it right from the start. I think it was a lot more fun for us than it was for them, but it was a good game. Just tried to break them down.”

“The focus is now all on Saturday. It’s a massive game against Australia. I know the boys are already buzzing about it and can’t wait to take them on in front of our home crowd.”

South Africa 4 New Zealand 3 (Pool A men)

South Africa pulled off a stunning win to put themselves in pole position for a semi-final spot ahead of the last Pool game between Australia and Pakistan.

The first quarter started fantastically from a South African perspective with 2 goals in the opening 10 minutes. Matthew Guise-Brown with the first from a penalty corner, followed up by a Keenan Horne strike. A frantic opening 10 minutes took another turn when Sam Lane halved the deficit for the Black Sticks.

The second period continued the open feel to the game, with both sides carving out chances. It was South Africa who made the first meaningful action of the quarter, Guise-Brown grabbing his second, and the African’s third, of the tie. Despite chances to extend the lead further it remained 3-1 heading into a crucial half-time.

While it was so-far so-good for South Africa as the second half got underway they were dealt a stark reminder of the quality of their opposition, as the Black Stick’s Jake Smith pulled another goal back. New Zealand, tails suddenly up, put more pressure on the South African goal but did not manage to restore parity in the third period.

The final 15 was set up for some frantic action when just a minute in Hugo Inglis levelled the sides from a penalty corner. Chances for both sides followed but a mix of steely defence and great keeping from South Africa’s Gowan Jones and New Zealand’s Leon Hayward frustrated both sets of players. The winner eventually came with 7 minutes to go, as Connor Beauchamp became the South African hero, edging his side ahead from a penalty corner. New Zealand went for broke, needing goals to save their hopes of a medal they committed to 11 outfield players, but it was not enough and there were jubilant scenes for South Africa as they put themselves in pole position for second place in Pool A.

The game meant South Africa occupied 2nd place in the Pool with a superior goal difference to Pakistan, who would need to beat Australia by 2 goals or more to leapfrog them. New Zealand were left in 4th place in the Pool, and would find out what classification game they would be taking part in after the last game of the day.

Tim Drummond (RSA): "It was always going to be close. We knew how good New Zealand are and we had to be at our best. We were closer, but we missed quite a few chances."

Connor Beauchamp (RSA): "It doesn't matter who we play in the semis, we'll just focus on that game and see what happens.

"If we defend well, our counter-attack is something to be reckoned with, and our short corners are a big strength of ours, too."

Australia 7 Pakistan 0 (Pool A men)

Australia maintained their 100% record in the final Pool match of the games, registering a comfortable win over Pakistan.

In order to ruin the South African party Pakistan needed to win this game by 2 goals or more, and to their credit they started on the front foot, taking the fight to the 6 time champions. They couldn’t find a way through however, and Blake Govers hammered home just how tough this would be for Pakistan by opening the scoring in the 12th minute.

The second quarter only served to make the already extremely tough Pakistan challenge almost impossible when Jeremy Hayward doubled the Kookaburra’s lead. A strong period for the Aussies only yielded the one goal but put them firmly in the driving seat.

Any lingering hopes of a Pakistan comeback were firmly crushed in the third quarter, as goals from Hayward and Tom Wickham just 2 minutes apart extended the lead to 4-0.

Australia saved their most prolific quarter for the final 15, adding 3 more goals from Wickham, Jacob Anderson and Nathan Ephraums. A thoroughly professional performance from a side looking to make it 7 out of 7 gold medals at the Commonwealth Games.

The result of the game means Pakistan will take on Canada in the 7th/8th classification match, while Australia will play hosts England in the semi-final on Saturday.

Day 8 preview:

Friday is semi-final day for the women’s competition, but the morning session begins at 9:00 with Ghana vs Kenya women in the 9th/10th classification game. This is followed by Wales vs South Africa at 11:15 as 7th and 8th place will be decided. With no afternoon session we move into semi-final action in the evening. At 18:00 hosts England take on New Zealand, followed by Australia vs India at 20:15.

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