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News for 15 March 2015

All the news for Sunday 15 March 2015

China stun South Africa in semis

France power past Egypt to join China in Olympic qualifier phase of Hockey World League

(Photo: Gavin Withers)

China (FIH World Ranking: 28) may have arrived in Cape Town as the fifth highest ranked team competing in the Greenfields Hockey World League Round 2 event, but they are certain to depart with at least a second place finish following a stunning semi-final victory over tournament favourites South Africa (WR: 13) on Saturday (14th March).

China’s remarkable 2-0 win over South Africa, a team that sits 15 places above them in the FIH World Rankings, is unquestionably one of the biggest shocks of the 2014-15 Edition of the Hockey World League and is a result which guarantees that the rapidly-improving Asians will feature in the Olympic qualifier phase of the HWL. Goal-scorers Liu Yixian and Sun Long were China’s heroes, making their mark to force the host nation into a must-win 3-4 classification match.

China’s opponents in the tournament final will be France (WR: 18), who were also victorious over an African nation thanks to a comprehensive 5-2 triumph over Egypt (WR: 21). Guillaume Deront, Jean-Laurent Kieffer and Olivier Sanchez got their names on the score-sheet before brothers Hugo and Tom Genestet made their contribution as France joined China in both the tournament final and the next phase of the HWL.

The 5-8 classification matches took place earlier in the day, with Czech Republic (WR: 20) defeating Azerbaijan (WR: 31) 8-2 before Switzerland (WR: 38) surged to a 5-1 win over Belarus (WR: 35).

All eight teams will be in action on Sunday (15th March), with the final day’s play getting underway with Azerbaijan and Belarus going head-to-head in the 7-8 classification match (0930 local time – UTC/GMT +2) before Czech Republic and Switzerland take to the field in the battle for 5th place (1145).

Continental rivals South Africa and Egypt (1400) will contest a hugely significant 3-4 classification match, with the prize of a place in the Olympic qualifier stage of the Hockey World League being on the line ahead of the showpiece final between China and France (1615). To see the full schedule from Cape Town, click here.

The three highest finishers in the eight-team men’s tournament, which started on Saturday 7th March and concludes on Sunday 15th March, will each be guaranteed a place in the semi-final of the competition, where places at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games are available. 

A total of nine qualification places for the HWL Semi-Finals are available in Round 2, with the top three finishers at each of the tournaments in Singapore (SIN), San Diego (USA) and Cape Town (RSA) all being certain to compete in the next phase. Malaysia, Poland and Japan all qualified for the HWL Semi-Finals thanks to top three finishes at the event in Singapore (SIN) earlier this year.  They were then joined by Ireland, Austria and Canada at the event in San Diego last week. To learn about how the teams progress through the competition in the hope of reaching the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, click here.

You can keep track of all of the action from Cape Town on the official tournament microsite.

FIH site

SA shaded by China in World League semi-final

JONATHAN COOK at Hartleyvale

Keenan Horne SA and Yang Ao (China) tussle for possession WLR2 semi CT 14 Mar 2015. ACTION PIX.

The South Africa men’s hockey team lost 2-0 to China in the semi-finals of the Greenfields FIH World League Round 2 tournament at Hartleyvale in Cape Town Saturday after trailing 1-0 at half-time.

Goals from Yixian Liu in the 24th minute off a penalty corner and Long Sun’s stunner from field play in the 52nd launched China into Sunday’s 4.15pm final against France, who had a flattering 5-2 win over Egypt.

SA had their fair share of chances but it was not to be. All is not lost as the top three finishers at Hartleyvale advance to World League Round 3 (the semi-final phase of this lengthy competition) and if SA can win Sunday’s 2pm bronze medal match against a strong Egypt team they still go through.

Last Saturday, eventual Pool A winners SA had beaten third-place finishers China 4-3 on penalty shootout after the scores were locked 4-4 at full-time seven days later it was a close contest once again.

There was a great chance for SA to go ahead in the sixth minute when the men in green and gold worked the ball along the left baseline but Taine Paton’s effort was blocked by alert keeper Rui Xu. Three minutes later China worked it round the right but the opportunity was blocked.

Two minutes into the second quarter SA striker Pierre de Voux did well to get in a shot but it sizzled past the far post. Soon after, a Dan Sibbald run and layoff saw Paton again agonisingly close.

Both sets of defenders were kept busy and some nifty out-letting got each team out of trouble on more than one occasion. China won the first penalty corner in the 24th minute and the slip-pass left saw receiver Liu flash his drag-flick high into the net (1-0).

Two more PCs followed soon after and the second saw Liu’s effort fly over the crossbar. SA had opportunities but the teams went into half-time with China still 1-0 up.

A determined SA won a PC seconds into the second half but captain Austin Smith’s low drag-flick was turned off the goal-line by China captain Tianjun Sun. SA put together a superb five-player move instigated by Rhett Halkett’s tackle in deep defence before keeper Rassie Pieterse made a stunning triple save minutes later.

In the 40th Clint Panther made ground before unleashing a pile-driver that shaded the wrong side of the post. Young Maties defender Daniel Bell had a good third chukka, launching attacking passes and fulfilling his traditional role, but the score remained unchanged going into the last chukka.

SA continued pressing hard but China stole away up the right and Long Sun’s superb strike made it 2-0 in the 52nd minute. Julian Hykes won a PC with 90 seconds left after Smith had instigated an attack from deep. It led to another PC and captain Tianjun Sun was sin-binned for dissent but Smith’s drag-flick went wide and minutes later the final whistle blew.

Rassie Pieterse (GK), Dylan Swanepoel, Austin Smith (capt), Rhett Halkett, Matt Guise-Brown, Jet Eustice, Clint Panther, Tim Drummond, Taine Paton, Pierre de Voux, Julian Hykes. Rolling subs: Gowan Jones (GK), Dan Bell, Robin Jones, Dan Sibbald, Natius Malgraff, Keenan Horne, Shannon Boucher.

Semi-finals: France 5 Egypt 2; South Africa 0 China 2.
5th/8th cross-pool playoffs: Azerbaijan 2 Czech Republic 8; Belarus 1 Switzerland 5.

Bronze medal 14h00 Egypt vs South Africa; Gold medal 16h15 France vs China.
(7/8th) 09h30 Azerbaijan vs Belarus; (5th/6th) 11h45 Switzerland vs Czech Republic.

SA Hockey Association media release

Rybacha fires Poland into HWL Olympic Qualifiers

Marlena’s solitary strike downs Malaysia and sets up final meeting with home favourites India

(Photo: FIH)

A first half strike from team captain Marlena Rybacha was enough for Poland (FIH World Ranking: 26) to defeat Malaysia (WR: 21) and reach the final of the Hero Hockey World League Round 2 tournament in New Delhi, India.

Rybacha found the target with a 3rd minute penalty corner before marshaling her team to a second successive victory over high-ranked opposition at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium. The Poles reached the event semis by overpowering Russia (WR: 23) on Thursday, but Saturday’s triumph against Malaysia is hugely significant as it guarantees a top two tournament finish and earns them a place in the Olympic qualifier phase of the HWL.

Poland’s opponents in the showpiece final will be host nation India (WR: 13), who justified their position as tournament favourites with a high quality victory over Thailand (WR: 45). Jaspreet Kaur, Sunita Lakra, Poonam Rani, Rani Rampal and Amandeep Kaur all contributed to a 5-0 score-line which sealed their safe passage through to both the final and the HWL Olympic qualifiers.

Sadly for Malaysia and Thailand, the semi-final defeats mark the end of their hopes of reaching the next phase of the HWL. The six finalists from the three women’s Round 2 events will be joined by the highest-ranked of the third place finishers from those competitions. Azerbaijan (WR: 19), who finished third in Montevideo, are currently in the hot-seat due to being higher-ranked than either Malaysia or Thailand, who will fight it out for third place on Sunday. However, Azerbaijan must wait until the completion of the women’s Round 2 event in Dublin before knowing their fate. To learn more about how the teams progress through the competition in the hope of reaching the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, click here.

The 5-8 classification matches took place earlier in the day, with Kazakhstan (WR: 32) overcoming Singapore (WR: 43) while Russia (WR: 23) cruised to a comfortable win against Ghana (WR: 30).

The final day of action Hero Hockey World League Round 2 event takes place on Sunday (15 March), with Singapore and Ghana getting proceedings underway at 1315 (local time – UTC / GMT +5.30) in the 7-8 classification match before Kazakhstan and Russia play off for 5th place at 1530. The battle for 3rd place between Thailand and Malaysia begins at 1745 before India and Poland fight it out for top spot at 2000.

You can keep track of the tournament in New Delhi on the official tournament microsite.

FIH site

India storms into the final, meets Poland

Uthra Ganesan

India, expectedly, booked a spot in the final of the Hero women’s Hockey World League Round 2 with a 5-0 win over Thailand at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here on Saturday.

The host maintained a clean slate, having not conceded a goal so far. India will now play Poland for the title though both teams have already qualified for Round 3.

Jaspreet Kaur opened the scoring, converting a penalty stroke in the 11th minute.

Two more goals came in the first half even as coach Roelant Oltmans tried out different players. Playing its dominant style, India kept tight control on the proceedings with waves of attacks.

Toying with the opposition, India looked more like trying out combinations than attempting to score.

Even during penalty corners — India earned 10 and converted two — the Indians experimented with different variations, instead of direct shots, and Oltmans admitted that the team was least interested in setting any scoring records.

India, however, will not find it so easy against Poland, the latter upsetting Malaysia 1-0, thanks to captain Marlena Rybacha’s goal in the other semifinal.

Poland was the only team to trouble the host, during the league stage, and has been the most improved side in the competition so far.

Earlier, Russia thrashed Ghana 7-1 and will take on Kazakhstan in the final classification match on Sunday.

Kazakhstan beat Singapore 2-1.

The results (semifinals):

India 5 (Jaspreet Kaur, Sunita Lakra, Poonam Rani, Rani, Amandeep Kaur) bt Thailand 0; Poland 1 (Marlena Rybacha) bt Malaysia 0.

Play-off: 5-8: Kazakhstan 2 (Olga Khonina, Gulnara Imangaliyeva) bt Singapore 1 (Xinni Chua); Russia 7 (Ksenia Shamina 3, Kseniia Svezhentseva 3, Kristina Shumilina) bt Ghana 1 (Rachael Bamfo).

Final (on Sunday): India vs Poland (8 p.m.).

The Hindu

Some suspense in the offing as Poland pose challenge to India

s2h team

The upset victory of Poland over Malaysia has all of a sudden injected an element of suspense in the today's final in what can otherwise be categorized as a dull Hockey World League Round 2 proceedings in New Delhi so far.

Paulina Okaj of Poland converted a third-minute penalty corner against Malaysia in the first semifinal and then showed better game to remain control of the proceedings to enter the Sunady final to lock horns with smooth sailing India.

Malaysia was expected to put up a fight and was tipped to be a favourite for the final, but that did not happen. Clueless and monotonous, Malaysia failed to come out of the early set back, which led them to settle for third place fight.

On the other hand, India was constructive and purposeful in its semifinal encounter against vastly improved Thailand in the second semifinal.

Its constructed moves, kept poise and patience inside circle, worked on moves rather than relying on individual brilliance.

After taking formidable 3-0 lead at half time, India kept the ball possession, indulged in set pieces to see off Thailand with a comfortable 5-0 win.

Jaspreet Kaur converted the day's only stroke in the 11th minute while 5 minutes later agile and alert Vandana Kataria increased the lead, bouncing on to a penalty corner rebound.

India did not show any great degree of precision in the vital area of penalty corners, converting just two out of nearly ten.

Poonam Rani's turn it was in the 22nd minute to enter her name on the scoreboard with a immaculate deflection of parallel pass into the net for team's third goal.

After lemon break, Rani Ramphal from right backline sent the ball in with an acute cross shot and then 13 minutes later right winger Amandeep Kaur added another off team's 9th penalty corner.

India and Poland, by virtue of being the finalists, have qualified for the Semifinal League to be held in Belgium in June.


Poland beat Malaysia to set up final against India

Ritu Sejwal

NEW DELHI: With less than two weeks of training ahead of the Hero Hockey World League Round 2, not many had though that Poland would be a possible finalist. But the determined Polish girls, ranked No. 26 in the world, had given enough hint of their prowess in the first match. On Saturday, they drove home that point further as they beat Malaysia 1-0 in the semifinals at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium.

The lone goal came from the stick of skipper Marlena Rybacha (3rd minute), who was later declared the player of the match. In the final, Poland will take on India, who beat Thailand 5-0 in a one-sided contest. For India, Jaspreet Kaur (11th minute), Sunita Lakra (16th minute), Poonam Rani (22nd minute), Rani (40th minute) and Amandeep Kaur (53rd minute) were the scorers.

Poland dominated the proceedings against Malaysia, their free-flowing attackers backed by a strong defence which kept the counter-attacks in check. When asked if the team expected to make the final, Marlena said: "To be honest, no. Our federation sent us to this tournament without preparation. They didn't believe in us. If they did, they would have spent some money on our preparations. We have showed them that we are good. Yes, we can now argue for better support."

The top two teams from this tournament will qualify for Round 3. Marlena said her team was capable of performing better in Round 3 if the federation gave them funds for training. "They have to invest in us if they want us to achieve something in the third round. It's a little complicated because our men's team is also going there and it's expensive. But again, we have proved a point," Marlena said.

Talking about the semis, she said the idea was to improve with every game. "We don't have to be the best here.We just have to play every game better than the previous one. We told ourselves that tactically we are better prepared but didn't know if we could handle the pressure mentally . We knew we had to attack from the start. We wanted to play our game, not Malaysia's style, I am happy we could do that," she pointed out.

Echoing the skipper's views, Poland coach Kezysztof Rachwalski said, "We have improved our game step by step in each game. Malaysia hadn't conceded a goal in the whole tournament. We are strong enough to play India in final. It will be the best game of the tournament."

The Times of India

Indian eves beat Thailand 5-0, to face Poland in HWL R2 final

NEW DELHI: Hosts India continued its winning spree and thrashed Thailand 5-0 to storm into the final of the Hero FIH Women's Hockey World League Round 2 at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, here on Saturday.

India, who had earlier defeated Thailand 6-0 in the pool stages, opened their account in the 11th minute from a penalty stroke which was successfully converted by Jaspreet Kaur.

Five minutes later, Sunita Lakra (16th) doubled India's lead by converting a penalty corner before Poonam Rani scored a field goal in the 22nd minute to make 3-0 in favour of the hosts.

Rani Rampal (40th) made it 4-0 in the third quarter with a field effort before Amandeep Kaur (53rd) struck another for India from a penalty corner.

India will face Poland in the summit clash on Sunday. They had earlier defeated Poland 2-0 in the pool stages.

Poland got the better of Malaysia by a solitary goal in the other semifinal to set up a class against the in-form home team.

Poland rode on Marlena Rybacha (3rd) early goal from a penalty corner conversion to register the win.

Poland coach Krzysztof Rachwalski warned India to take his side lightly in tomorrow's final.

"We have improved in the tournament with each game and the result is for everyone to see. We did well in the quarterfinals against Russia and today against Malaysia. We managed to score only one goal but it was enough for us to win the game. I think we are strong enough to face any opponent in the finals and it would be a very entertaining match to witness," he said.

Earlier in the fifth to eighth position classification matches, Kazakhstan defeated Singapore 2-1 in a close encounter while Russia spanked Ghana 7-1.

Kazakhstan will next play Russia in the fifth-sixth position play-off match, while Singapore and Ghana will play each other to avoid the wooden spoon.

The Times of India

Marlena dashes Malaysian hope..

By Jugjet Singh

THE National women's hockey team failed at the last hurdle when they were edged 1-0 by Poland in the semi-finals of the World League Round Two in New Delhi yesterday.

Malaysia had scored a total of 18 goals in four matches and never let in a single one, until they met Poland in the last four.

Marlena Rybacha was the toast of the Poles, as her third minute penalty corner goal took them into the final, and also earned them a ticket into the World League Semi-finals where berths to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics are on offer.

For the record, it was only Marlena's fourth goal of the tournament which dashed Malaysia's hopes.

The other semi-finals late yesterday was between India and Thailand, with the hosts being hot favourites to advance to the final.

Malaysia will now play for the bronze but it would highly likely be a Sea Games warm-up against Thailand, and the medal would not take them into the WL Semi-finals.

The WL rules stipulate that the highest ranked bronze medallists in three of the Round Two tournaments will also advance, but Azarbaijan, ranked 19th, finished third in Montevideo and are eagerly awaiting qualification.

Malaysia are ranked 21st in the world.

Jugjet's World of Field Hockey

Malaysia falter in semis of World League hockey

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian women’s hockey team failed to deliver when it mattered most.

Malaysia’s hopes of qualifying for the World League Semi-Finals in June went up in smoke after they were upset by world No. 26 Poland 1-0 in the semi-finals of World League Second Round in New Delhi.

The other semi-final saw hosts India defeating Thailand 5-0.

The two finalists – Poland and India – are guaranteed a place in the World League Semi-Finals in either Belgium or Argentina in June.

World No. 21 and second seeds Malaysia were a letdown, failing to make an impact in the first two quarters.

Although Malaysia had several opportunities to score in the last two quarters, the forwards muffed their chances.

Poland, who lost 1-0 to Malaysia in a friendly last week, went on the offensive right from the word go.

And it took them just three minutes to find the net when skipper Marlena Rybacha scored off a penalty corner set piece.

Malaysia’s best chance for an equaliser came in the 50th minute but Hanis Nadiah Onn failed to beat goalkeeper Matha Kucharska in a one-on-one situation.

National coach Mohd Nasihin Nubli was clearly annoyed with his players’ performance.

“It was our best chance to qualify for the World League Semi-Finals and we blew it due ... all because of our own fault,” he lamented.

“We put ourselves under unnecessary pressure right from the start.

“I’m disappointed with the defenders for conceding a soft goal off a penalty corner.\

“Now, we’ll have to wait another four years to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.”

The Star of Malaysia

Winning start as Ireland beat Ukraine 5-0

Ireland cruised to a powerful opening victory in Pool A of the UDG Healthcare Hockey World League Round 2, beating Ukraine 5-0 at Belfield.

It gave them a solid base for the week which acts as the first qualifying phase of the 2016 Olympic qualifying process.

Anna O’Flanagan got them off to a superb start when she guided in a Katie Mullan cross just three minutes into the game. It came in a rip-roaring start in which Ireland had two further goals ruled out while a couple of close range chances also went a begging.

O’Flanagan doubled up on the quarter-time hooter as Nicci Daly – Ireland’s stand-out performer – tore down the right wing and picked out the striker. From mid-circle, she thumped through goalkeeper Tetiana Stepanchenko’s defences.

Cliodhna Sargent’s swept penalty corner strike extended the lead to 3-0 by half-time of a dominant display though there were more chances to build on the total.

The second half saw more of the same early on with Megan Frazer potting a penalty stroke 35 seconds into the half after Aine Connery’s shot was blocked on the line by a Ukranian body.

Connery applied a simple touch for number five from McCay’s clever angled shot in the 36th minute. With the tension out of the game, the next stages proved frustrating for the Irish as they created a glut of chances but could not add to their tally but they will nonetheless be satisfied with a comprehensive opening day victory.

“We could have scored a few more and were a bit wasteful but 5-0 is not too bad to start a tournament,” head coach Darren Smith said after the match.

“Ukraine arrived in last night and were probably a bit sluggish. What you would like to do is rise above that and be sharper. We lacked a bit of being clinical but also scored some nice goals.”

Next up, they play Canada on Sunday at 3.15pm in Belfield in their second group game and Smith is looking forward to that task.

“I watched them a month ago against New Zealand and they look like they are doing a good job. They are fit, aggressive and pretty hard nosed so it will be a good game and I reckon we will enjoy that.”

Earlier in the day, Chile defeated Lithuania 4-0 while Belarus were 2-0 winners over Austria.

UDG Healthcare Hockey World League Round 2

Pool A: Ireland 5 (A O’Flanagan 2, C Sargent, M Frazer, A Connery) Ukraine 0

Ireland: E Gray, C Sargent, E Smyth, N Evans, S McCay, M Frazer, N Daly, H Matthews, K Mullan, A O’Flanagan, G Pinder
Subs: N Carroll, A Connery, C Watkins, L Colvin, K Dillon, A Meeke, A McFerran

Ukraine: T Stepanchenko, K Shokalenko, Y Kernoz, Y Shevchenko, K Samokhodchenko, O Derkch, Y Sitalo, V Stetsenko, N Honcharenko, O Hulenko, H Liashenko
Subs: Y Fadieieva, O Honcharenko, O Kurovska, I Stelnyk, Y Vorushylo, A Fadieieva

Irish Hockey Association media release

Canadian women begin World League 2 with shutout victory over Turkey

Canada faces host Ireland Sunday morning

Shaheed Devji

The Canadian women's field hockey team opened Women's World League Round 2 with a convincing 5-0 victory over Turkey Saturday in Dublin, Ireland.

Early in the match the Canadians, ranked 22nd in the world, put a lot of pressure on the Turks, ranked 36th, setting the tone for what was to come in the subsequent sixty minutes.

The first goal of the game came in the seventh minute at the hands of Canadian forward Hannah Haughn who beat the Turkish keeper Selin Guzeller to make it 1-0.

Minutes later, Guzeller was forced to make a big save on a penalty stroke against Canadian defender Sara McManus. But the Turks couldn't keep the Canadians at bay for much longer.

In the twelvth minute, Canadian forward Thea Culley was able to finish off a nice play by tipping the ball past Guzeller and giving Canada a 2-0 lead.

The start couldn't have been drawn up any better, with Canada in full control throughout the first quarter.

McManus was able to make good on her next opportunity as in the nineteenth minute she converted on a penalty corner to give Canada the 3-0 lead as the two teams headed to the half-time break.

The offensive outburt continued in the second half with Canada holding a comfortable lead. In the thirty-fifth minute, forward Brienne Stairs, who was among the world's top goal scorers in 2014, converted on a penalty corner to put Canada up 4-0. Stairs added her second of the game in the fifty-eight minute as Canada cruised to victory.

Canadian goalkeer Kaitlyn Williams earned the shutout for Canada in her 51st international match.

Canada will face host Ireland, one of the tournament favourites, on Sunday. The match will be live streamed at 8:15am PST/11:15 am EST the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=paHrv0NVMHo

The top two finishers at World League 2 gain an entry into World League Round 3 in Spain in June, where the top teams will earn a spot at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Field Hockey Canada media release

Play-off hunt goes down to the wire

Clifton players celebrate a goal against Univ of Birmingham in the Investec Women's Premier Division on Mar 14 2015. Credit Peter Smith

THE battle for the final play-off spot in the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division will go right down to the final week of action after a nail-biting set of results on Saturday.

Currently fourth, a win at Kent rivals Canterbury would’ve seen Holcombe clinch a place at the Finals Weekend, which is being held at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London this year.

But Mel Clewlow’s 18th minute goal from a penalty corner proved enough to give Canterbury the win and move them up to second, while Holcombe remain fourth by a narrow margin.

The University of Birmingham are still in the play-off race after drawing 1-1 with Clifton. Aileen Davis had given the Bristol side the lead on 22 minutes, but Hannah Martin struck in the 47th minute for the visitors.

Reading could still also be heading for London after winning 2-0 at Buckingham, with Georgie Blackwood and Kate Richardson-Walsh scoring their goals in the first half.

Leaders Surbiton continued their good form as they travelled to Bowdon Hightown to record a 4-2 victory. Emily Atkinson was Surbiton’s stand out performer as she netted a brace in the 21st minute, whilst Bowdon Hightown’s goals both came from Holly Hunt in the 55th and 67th minutes.

And relegated Beeston ended Leicester’s play-off hopes when they beat them 3-2 with goals from Phoebe Richards, Hannah Wraith and Erica Sanders.

Investec Conference West

Bottom of the table Cheltenham found their form too late as they beat league leaders Slough 2-1 in the Women’s Investec Conference West.

A penalty corner from Gayle Pearce after 15 minutes and another on 62 minutes by Emily Mitchem sealed the victory for Cheltenham, despite an equaliser on 60 minutes by Josephine Brackenhoff for Slough.

Stourport and Trojans played out a thrilling 4-4 draw. Stourport’s Claire Pearson scored on 13 and 21 minutes, while Trojans’ Kewley Mccaskill scored on 10 and 14 minutes

Elsewhere, Olton & West Warwicks beat Swansea City 3-1, Isca University and Gloucester City played out a 1-1 draw and Bristol Firebrands also drew 1-1 to Oxford Hawks.

Investec Conference North

Sutton Coldfield managed a comfortable 4-0 victory at home to close league rivals Brooklands Poynton, and move to within three points of second place.

The hosts went in 1-0 at half-time thanks to a penalty corner from Vicky Woolford in the 15th minute. A second half brace from Jane Sixsmith and another from Bethan Merriman rounded off a comfortable victory.

Champions Wakefield recorded a 4-3 victory over Loughborough Students despite the efforts of Loughborough’s Ellie Tait who scored a hat-trick to round off a good performance.

Elsewhere, Ben Rhydding won 2-1 at the University of Durham, Kendal beat rivals Liverpool Sefton 2-1 to avoid relegation play-offs, and Whitley Bay and Tynemouth won 1-0 at bottom of the league Cannock.

Investec Conference East

Harleston Magpies moved into second place on goal difference with one game remaining as they defeated league rivals Sevenoaks 3-1 away from home.

Charlotte Harrison, Maria Andrews and Emma-Lee-Smith were the goals scorers for Harleston as they took a comfortable 3-0 victory before half time. Jet Van Zalen scored a penalty corner in the 47th minute but it proved too little.

League leaders East Grinstead continued their dominance as they recorded a comfortable 4-1 victory over struggling Bedford, who are now only two points off the bottom of the table. Heather Batten led the scoring for East Grinstead by hitting a brace.

St Albans were 2-0 winners at home against Horsham, while Maidenhead won 3-1 against Ipswich and Wimbledon were 1-0 victors at Chelmsford.

Investec Women’s Hockey League (Saturday, March 14 2015):

Investec Women's Premier Division: Bowdon 2, Surbiton 4; Buckingham 0, Reading 2; Canterbury 1, Holcombe 0; Clifton 1, University of Birmingham 1; Leicester 2, Beeston 3.

Investec Women's Conference West: Bristol Firebrands 1, Oxford Hawks 1; Cheltenham 2, Slough 1; Isca 1, Gloucester City 1; Olton & West Warwicks 3, Swansea City 1; Stourport 4, Trojans 4.

Investec Women's Conference North: Cannock 0, Whitley Bay and Tynemouth 1; Liverpool Sefton 1, Kendal 2; Sutton Coldfield 4, Brooklands Poynton 0; University of Durham 1, Ben Rhydding 2; Wakefield 4, Loughborough Students 3.

Investec Women's Conference East: Chelmsford 0, Wimbledon 1; East Grinstead 4, Bedford 1; Maidenhead 3, Ipswich 1; Sevenoaks 1, Harleston Magpies 3; St Albans 2, Horsham 0.

England Hockey Board Media release

Milo Cup: Young Guns tired of firing blanks

By Jugjet Singh

UNIKL Young Guns will be playing in their sixth consecutive Milo Cup finals against SSTMI Thunderbolts in the MHC-Milo-NSC Junior Hockey League at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil today.

The University side made their debut in 2010, and lifted the Milo Cup by beating Thunderbolts who were known as Bandar Penawar Sports School back then.

However, in the next four Milo Cup finals, SSTMI Thunderbolts were the victors and last season it was on a 2-0 scoreline.

This year, SSTMI Thunderbolts beat UniKL 4-2 en route to lifting their fourth consecutive League title.

That is why UniKL coach I. Vickneswaran can't wait to shed the bridesmaid tag: "Even though we have been consistently finishing second, but I believe this time around it will be different."

"They (Thunderbolts) will enter the pitch as favourites but we can't let that affect us psychologically. In terms of experience and chemistry, Thunderbolts will have the upper hand as they not only have some of the best junior players in the country, but have also been together for many years.

"We have planned something special for the final, and hopefully it is enough to upset the formbook," said Vickneswaran.

SSTMI Thunderbolts have been cruising at top speed in the knock-out stage and it would be a major surprise if they do not lift their fourth consecutive double today.

However, Thunderbolts coach Wan Roslan Wan Rahman have brushed aside the favourites tag: “We may have got the better of them during the league, but I can assure you that it would not be so easy tomorrow (today). Both sides have their own strengths and it will all boil down to who can play their cards right.”

Wan Roslan is well aware of the threat that UniKL can pose and has made some tactical re-adjustment for the big game.

“UniKL are very dangerous when they push forward and we will also have to keep an eye on (S.) Deveandran and Norsyafiq (Sumantri), they pull the strings upfront and my defenders must neutralise them.”

National senior team skipper Azlan Misron, who is Down Under on Tour with his men to prepare for the Azlan Shah Cup, made his prediction for the Milo Cup.

“The final is too close to call as this rivalry has been going on for years now. But I predict Thunderbolts have the extra fire-power to come out tops, but on penalty shoot out. I predict a 2-2 full time score," said Azlan.

TODAY: Final -- SSTMI Thunderbolts v UniKL Young Guns (National Stadium Picth II, 5.30pm).

Third-Fourth: SSP-MSP Thunderbolts v Petaling Jaya City Council (National Stadium Picth II, 3.30pm).

Jugjet's World of Field Hockey

All indications point to Thunderbolt win in Milo Cup final

By S. Ramaguru

SSTMI Thunderbolt's Mohd Amirul Hamizan (left) dribbles past a UniKL player when the two sides met in the Malaysian Junior Hockey League match last month. - Filepic

KUALA LUMPUR: SSTMI-Thunderbolt and Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) have slugged it out in the last four Milo Cup finals.

They meet on Sunday for a fifth straight showdown at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil and all signs point to SSTMI-Thunderbolt winning their fifth overall title and a fourth straight double.

UniKL won the overall title in 2010 under coach I. Vickneswaran. He is now back with the team as coach but can he prevent the sports school from cantering to victory again?

He admitted that SSTMI “are the stronger team”.

“But I’d like to think that they are beatable. It depends on how well we prepare and plan for the game,” said Vickneswaran.

“I just wish we had a few extra days to prepare for this big clash ... but I guess we’ll just have to get on with it.”

SSTMI-Thunderbolt had beaten UniKL 4-2 in a league match but the sport school’s coach, Wan Roslan Abdul Rahman, believes there are no favourites in the final.

“We may have beaten them in the league, but I can assure you that it doesn’t matter now. The final is a whole new ball game,” he said.

“It will all boil down to who can play their cards right in the final.”

To prepare for the final, Wan Roslan has made some tactical readjustments for the game.

“UniKL are very dangerous going forward ... we’ll have to keep an eye on S. Deveandran and Norsyafiq Sumantri. These two pull the strings upfront and our defenders will have to be on their toes,” said Wan Roslan.

But these two are not the only livewires for the Universiti side. There’s also Maxhans Christie, who is adapt at scoring penalty corner goals.

SSTMI also have their own star players.

In Mohd Firdaus Omar, they have a top penalty corner drag flicker who has scored 12 goals thus far. They can also count on pint-sized Danial Asyraf, Mohd Zulhamizan, Mohd Lukman Hakim and Mohd Hussaini Hussin to be game-changers.

All these players have scored for SSTMI, whose game is all about teamwork.

But the final may well be decided by a piece of individual brilliance.

The only question is, who among the two teams’ key players will step up to the plate?

The Star of Malaysia

Local hockey final tomorrow

KARACHI: Hanif Khan XI set a final date with Olympian Islahuddin-Dr Shah Academy after the two outfits won their respective semi-finals in contrasting styles in the Maj Jahanzeb Adnan Shaheed hockey tournament at the latter’s ground on Saturday.

A brace of goals by Haseem Khan guided Hanif Khan XI to an emphatic 3-1 victory over Sherwani Motors. Haseem slammed goals in 13th and 52nd minutes while Azlan added the third goal. Earlier, Irfan Khan created quite a stir by drawing first blood in the fourth minute of the play for losers.

Earlier, Islahuddin-Dr Shah Academy overcome Rauf XI 4-3 on penalty stroke shootout after being tied one-all in the regulation time. Yasir Ali gave the latter lead by scoring a field goal in the 36th minute while Shujaat restored parity through penalty corner conversion in 52nd minute.

The winners converted one penalty stroke apiece through Shujaat, Junaid and Zubair while Adnan Hamid and Yasir Ali scored once for losers. The final between Islahuddin-Dr Shah Academy and Rauf XI will be played on Monday at 4.30pm.


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