Two great games end in draws in the first day of the men’s world league

[img_assist|nid=8244|title=Rabobank World League semi final|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=150|height=150]Netherlands – New Zealand 3-3 (1-2 halftime)

Much like their female counterparts, the Dutch men had their hands full today in their Rabobank Hockey World League Semi-Final debut, and like the women, they were able to salvage a point from the outing in a 3-3 draw against #6 New Zealand.

Jeroen Hertzberger opened the scoring with a penalty stroke goal in the 19thminute. It was a mirror start to the women, who also netted a first-half penalty stroke. But unlike the women’s game, the New Zealand men had an immediate response when Hug Inglis struck with a field goal a minute later. Inglis gave the Black Sticks the 2-1 lead three minutes before the break when he deflected a shot from Phil Burrows from nearly midfield.

The game could have gone either way when the second half started as it was a see-saw battle in the first ten minutes of the stanza. But the tide turned in New Zealand’s favor when Jacob Smith was in an ideal position in the slot and got a perfect pass to complete the play for the 3-1 lead.

Herzberger got the Dutch within striking distance when he put in a short corner goal with 15 minutes left in regulation and just over two minutes later, a field goal from Valentin Verga pulled the hosts even with New Zealand, setting up a grand showdown in the last 10 minutes. The grand showdown turned more into a slow simmer as the both teams were out of gas and had to settle for the 3-3 draw.

Tomorrow Pool A springs into action as Spain will take on France, while Australia meets Belgium. All four men’s team that played today are idle tomorrow. Saturday will feature all eight men’s team in action in a men’s-only day of action in Rotterdam. 

India – Ireland 4-4 (1-2 halftime)

Only four World Ranking points separate India (11th) and Ireland (15th) and it was clear in today’s men’s Rabobank Hockey World League Semi-Final opener that the teams were very much equal as they played to a hard-fought 4-4 draw. The second half turned into a wild west shootout as the teams matched each other blow for blow in the entertaining match.

A Singh opened the scoring in the 20th minute with a great shot from the top of the D, but it was quickly answered by an even more spectacular goal when Ala Sothern dribbled the ball to-and-fro in the circle and put on a series of moves that led to a stunning 1-1 equalizer.

Ireland’s Paul Gelghorne scored the go-ahead goal before the halftime hooter to give the Irish the small 2-1 advantage at the break. India mounted its comeback in the second sparked by R.P. Singh fired in a hard short corner shot to even the game at 2. S. Singh followed-up with the 3-2 goal with a point blank tip in to give the Indians the lead.

But Ireland was not finished. With 12 minutes left in regulation, Conor Harte put in Ireland’s first short corner of the game to tie things for the third time. Andrew McConnell put in the 4-3 goal for the Irish with 6:30 left in regulation on a breakaway play. Unfortunately for India, goaltender Sreejesh was badly shaken up on the play and had to leave the field on a stretcher.

But with all the cards on the table, India came storming back, yet again. This time with a penalty corner goal from R.P. Singh with 4:27 left in regulation. The goal would be the last offense that either of the two exhausted teams could muster as they both left with a point apiece for their efforts.