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The Netherlands won the first ever Hockey World League after cruising to a 7-2 victory in the final of the Hero Hockey World League Final. Captain of the Netherlands Robert van der Horst said: “This was a very good result, we knew we were able to play hard, and we needed to stick to our game plan, which is speeding up and skilful hockey. However the final score of 7-2 is unbelievable.”
A cagey first 10 minutes saw both teams testing their opposition, but providing very few real scoring opportunities. It was the Netherlands who broke the deadlock when Constantijn Jonkers (17') scored the first of his three goals from an almost impossible angle past Devon Manchester in the Black Sticks goal.
The Netherlands turned up the pressure in the last 15 minutes of the first half, winning two penalty corners and keeping the Black Sticks pinned in their half of the pitch. A second goal was added by Billy Bakker (23') as the men in black struggled to cope with the ferocity of the Dutch attack. The Netherlands third goal came on the stroke of half time when a ball fired in from the midfield found Jonkers (35') who deflected the ball past Manchester.
The second half got off to a scintillating start as first the Netherlands through Bob de Voogd (36') put the Netherlands 4-0 up and then Steve Edwards (37') of the Black Sticks made the score 4-1.The game continued to be very open, with both teams seeking long passes to penetrate the defence, but again it was the Netherlands who made pressure tell, Rogier Hofman (45') scoring Oranje hockey's fifth goal and putting the game all but out of the Black Sticks reach. Edwards (52') scored his second for the Black Sticks but then Bakker (59') added his second, again a field goal that bounced around the circle before the tall Dutchman fired it home. Minutes later Jonker (61') got his third goal after running onto a ball fired into the circle and tipping it home.
Player of the tournament Robbert Kemperman said that “It is a great feeling, we really wanted that win, I am really proud and everyone put an effort into the win.” Asked about his individual award, Kemperman said that it was a “nice extra.”
Black Sticks skipper Dean Couzins admitted that he felt “pretty disappointed” after the loss, but said that when the team had a chance to reflect on the overall performance they would be pleased with the steps they had taken.
This was a sentiment echoed by coach Colin Batch. “We didn’t come out to play in the first half, but we were much better in the second half. By then it was too late and we were hit by the goals either side of the half. But, we never expected a silver medal and it is a big step forwards for the team.”
The winning coach Paul van Ass said: “We are heading back to the top again. We are really pleased with the way this tournament has gone, especially with wins over Germany and Australia.” He added that with results such as India beating Germany and Argentina‘s win against the Netherlands early in the tournament, the gap between the teams was closing.