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Belgium men win group A

[img_assist|nid=8244|title=Rabobank World League semi final|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=125|height=125]GROUP A
Belgium – Spain 1-1 (1-0 halftime)

Belgium needed just one point from today’s game against Spain to earn first place in Group A at the Rabobank Hockey World League Semi-Final, and they got just that with a nail-biting 1-1 draw against Spain.

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The win means that Belgium finishes on top of its preliminary round group and will face either India or Ireland in Wednesday’s quarterfinal. The draw gives Spain a third-place finish in the group.

The first half was a lot of back-and-forth with very little offense. It wasn’t until Spain scored an own goal with two minutes left in the half that the scoreline changed. That goal would ultimately be what gave Belgium the first-place finish in the group.

Spain came out stronger in the second half and was finally rewarded when David Alegre put in a blooper goal that bounced off goaltender Vincent Vanash’s foot. The goal pulled Spain even with Belgium and made for a tense last 12 minutes as Spain jumped on the momentum and gave the Belgians some worrying chances.

In the end, Belgium hung on for the draw and can now look ahead to being the top seed on quarterfinal Wednesday. 

Australia – France 7-1 (3-1 halftime)

Jamie Dwyer scored an amazing five goals today in a decisive 7-1 win over France in their last game of the round robin at the Rabobank Hockey World League Semi-Final in Rotterdam. The lowest-seeded French had no chance against Australia, which has spent much of the group phase of the tournament atoning for a Day 1 loss against Belgium.

That loss against Belgium could still come back to haunt the Aussies, despite their strong showing in the last two games. Both Belgium and Australia have six points, but Belgium still has one game left in the group phase and needs just one point against Spain to claim first in the group and get the ideal quarterfinal draw in the cross over.

France’s position is much clearer as the last-ranked team in Group A with zero points in three games, they will play the top-finisher from Group B in Wednesday’s quarterfinal.

In terms of game action, there wasn’t much to say beyond Jamie Dywer’s one-man show. He already had a hat trick wrapped up within the first 24 minutes, giving the Aussies the strong 3-0 lead. The French cut into the lead with a penalty corner goal four minutes before the break to make it a respectable 3-1 score at the half.

But Australia quickly erased any doubt in the second half when, once again, Dywer found the back of the goal – this time in the 41st minute. Teammates Kieran Govers and Matthew Swann followed up and added some variety to the scoresheet with another pair goal goals coming five minutes apart.

Dwyer added the icing on the cake with his fifth goal in the 55th minute to bring the final to 7-1. Impressively all five of Dwyer’s markers were field goals – a rare feat to add to the oddity of scoring five goals in one game.

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