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Historic hockey campaign despite gold medal disappointment

Posted: 14-Jul-2017 by Maccabiah

Pics: Julie Kerbel

AUSTRALIA'S first Open Men's hockey campaign since 2005 has ended with a first ever silver medal, after the green and gold went down 2-0 in the Gold Medal match to the Netherlands in Petah Tikva.

Des Duarte's side, who edged Germany in the semis yesterday to make the decider, gave a superb account of themselves but despite a handful of chances, Australia went down thanks to a combination of brilliant Dutch goalkeeping and some clinical play on the counter attack to seal the two-goal victory.

Star player Joel Hamilton might have been on the losing side but he was the most dangerous man on the field, and he was recognised by the umpire after the game as the player of the tournament.

The game swung in a matter of seconds in the third quarter, when Dion Verstandig had the ball in the back of the net, but within seconds of his disallowed effort, the Dutch had rubbed insult into injury in the most decisive manner.

The first half ended 0-0; an even, cagey period level in possession and territory with both teams only enjoying half chances, with two hard working defences excelling. In that sense, it was very much a final - tight, tense and very hard to pick. Holland had two men sin binned but rallied on each occasion.

Their biggest task was containing Joel Hamilton, although Andrew Coleman and Charles Hamilton were dangerous out wide too, and skipper Ari Wytwornik and Shane Campbell were imposing in the middle of the park.

There were plenty of hotly contested 50-50s and the Australians did not shirk the task once. The action started to heat up at the start of the second half; Josh Hamilton crosses flashed past Coleman and Verstandig and then Eithan Faifer made a phenomenal stop to keep it at 0-0.

Australia thought they had taken the lead via the semi final goal scorer Verstandig but it was ruled out, the ball judged to have gone out.

Cruelly, the Dutch stormed downfield and opened the scoring; but the Aussies' response said much about their character, as they pegged the Dutch back and earned a few short corners. Verstandig found himself one-on-one with the keeper but was denied; Campbell flashed a brilliant ball across the face of goal which evaded everyone, but then the very busy Adam Bogatim also found himself in the bin.

The game got out of Australia's reach before the three-quarter break, with the Dutch converting a penalty.

Coleman and Verstandig both enjoyed massive chances in the final quarter, but in truth, the Dutch missed an absolute dolly that could have made it three.

Overall, while disappointing to lose the decider it was a momentous moment for Australian Maccabiah hockey, claiming a first silver medal, with Duarte conceding credit has to go to the better side that prevailed on the day.

For an interview with Des and Joel Hamilton, check out our Facebook page. 


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