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Sports: A grand double for the Netherlands in the FIH Pro League

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A day after assuring itself of the top finish in the FIH Pro League Hockey Tournament for women, the  Dutch teams, both men and women, continued their winning spree in the remaining games of the tournament.

The Dutch women put in another impressive performance against New Zealand, claiming an emphatic 7-1 win. The encounter brought with it a 250th cap for Margot van Geffen and after the match, the home crowd was given even more to celebrate as the team was handed the FIH Hockey Pro League trophy. Later in the evening, their male counterparts continued their quest to make it a Dutch double, beating Germany 2-0 to ensure they remain in the hunt to overtake Great Britain at the top of the tournament table. Belgium and Spain remain the only other men’s teams apart from GB and the Netherlands still in the running to take top honours.

The newly crowned champions had a spring in their step as they took to the turf and wasted no time in getting themselves on the scoresheet. After just two minutes, they were 1-0 up after Yibbi Jansen drilled one in off a re-awarded penalty corner. The Netherlands were afforded far too much space in the midfield and that allowed Luna Fooke to make an easy run towards goal, slotting it through to Xan de Waard in the circle to add the excellent finish for their second.

De Waard was in action again just three minutes later, working the ball into the circle for Joosje Burg to fire in the home side’s third. The Black Sticks managed to stem the tide in the second quarter – still coming under immense pressure but managing not to concede another goal before half-time.

New Zealand were awarded a penalty stroke just 15 seconds into the third quarter and Olivia Merry made no mistake in slotting it in to claw one back for her side. But a quick pass from Felice Albers to Elzemiek Zandee saw the 22-year-old scoring her first senior international goal to take the Dutch tally to four. Frédérique Matla added another one three minutes later with a deft deflection in front of goal and Zandee then scored her second after receiving the ball from Burg.

A defensive blunder handed Matla a golden opportunity to notch up her second of the match to wrap up the comprehensive 7-1 victory.

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Xen de Waard was named Player of the Match and said: “It was amazing. A full stadium is always great and if it’s in your home town, then it’s amazing… I think this was our best [performance] but I think the spaces were very big and that’s what we like, so we took advantage of it today.”

In the men’s game, the Germans created the better of the early chances, but a defensive error cost them when the Dutch turned it over and Jip Janssen played the ball through for captain Thierry Brinkman to slot in the opener.

Janssen then fired in the Netherlands’ second off a penalty corner after the half-time break, dragging it into the right of goal.

With just over two and half minutes remaining in the third quarter, Germany were awarded a penalty stroke. But they were denied a first goal when Timm Herzbruch hit the crossbar.

The Netherlands were awarded a stroke of their own when Bijen Koen was taken down by the German keeper, Alexander Stadler, in the circle, but Stadler redeemed himself by saving Thijs van Dam’s effort. Germany then threw everything at the home team in the final minutes of the match, but the Dutch held on for the 2-0 victory.

Lars Balk was named Player of the Match and said: “This is nice, the atmosphere is amazing in our own home town so it’s a great feeling. We are in a race [for the FIH Hockey Pro League title] so it was nice.”

Prabhjot Singh

NEWS

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