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Day 2 - Australia on Top
30 Nov 2003 08:47

Australian captain Katrina Powell scores their second goal against Holland. Australia won 2-1.

European champions The Netherlands came to Sydney with its women’s hockey team having specially recorded a jingle for every goal it scored in the BDO Champions Trophy. It took 119 minutes of hockey to finally hear the Dutch theme ... but one rendition was not enough to save The Netherlands from its second consecutive defeat, this time 2-1 to Olympic champion Australia.

Fellow European nation England, needing to rebound from its opening day 5-0 battering from the Hockeyroos, today broke its 107-minute drought in goalscoring, but the public address system was not queued for the English celebratory theme. And to make matters worse, England conceded a goal in the last 73 seconds to lose 2-1 to a wasteful Korea dancing to its own tune with its first points of the cut-throat tournament.

Day Two – when the storm clouds opened to temporarily drench sunbaked Homebush Bay – emphasised the changing world order in women’s hockey. Europe’s finest, The Netherlands and England, remain without a win. The hotbed of the women’s game is increasingly moving towards Asia.

Champions Trophy holder China three times led World Cup winner Argentina before settling on a 3-3 draw which revealed the Chinese are no one-tournament wonder and the Argentines can indeed adjust their game to stretch an opponent, particularly one renowned for defending as China does when it holds a lead.

Olympic champion Australia finished the day with the perfect count of six points from two matches to lead the championship table ahead of tomorrow’s rest day, one the Hockeyroos, according to coach David Bell, need to recharge after an emotionally draining experience in their 2-1 triumph against intense rival The Netherlands.

Whether the Dutch are good singers is hard to appreciate on one short burst of their theme song. And coach Marc Lammers laments his players are not scoring more often to put them higher on the Champions Trophy chart, let alone any hit parade.

The Netherlands fell behind after a minute’s play when Carmel Bakurski converted Australia’s first penalty corner and 2-0 back in the 42nd minute when Hockeyroos captain Katrina Powell scored her third goal of the tournament. The Dutch needed a penalty stroke – awarded on the advice of the second umpire and converted by Janneke Schopman – in the 49th minute to put its CD on the turntable at Homebush.

Again and again Lammers revealed his frustration with his team’s “finishing touch”.

“Today,” said Lammers, whose Dutch side lost 1-0 to China on Saturday, “we played well against Australia but we forgot how the score goals.”

The Dutch also had to deal with the impressive goalkeeping of Rachel Imison and the tandem established ahead of her by Olympic gold medallist Katie Allen and Angie Skirving.

The  storm clouds opened as Australia walked off with its perfect record at Homebush secured, but the lightning in the distance did not match the electricity on the field in the match of the tournament so far.

“We’re very happy,” said Bell after scoring a significant win against a respected long-standing rival. “This time in Macau we had just one point from two games and no goals. You don’t get any easy games in this tournament, so to have maximum points at this stage – and to have our conversion of penalty corners up – is good, very good.”

Not so pleased with his team’s penalty corner conversion – zero from nine attempts against England - was Korea manager Kim Sang Ryul.

“We missed very good chances,” he said. “If we could not score from nine (penalty corners), we never will. Our girls are not confident (in their goalshooting). It is a problem that we are not finishing as well as Australia, Argentina …”

England had to respond to its 5-0 thrashing from Australia and the critical review of coach Trish Heberle. Korea tested that resolved by leading after 23 minutes with Kim Mi Seon’s lone run at the English defence. England’s equaliser at a penalty corner from Lucilla Wright in the first minute after half-time was met with silence from the CD player and matched by Mi Seon’s second opportunistic goal with 73 seconds to play.

England captain Kate Walsh accepted Heberle’s appraisal 24 hours earlier adding: “It is sinful to take to the field lacking pride and passion. You can’t do that while representing your country. We had a hard look at ourselves and today our work-rate picked up and we started from our basics.”

Argentina had to three times recover from falling behind to the determined Chinese and did well to expose outstanding China goalkeeper Nie Yali.

“It is always hard to come back against China, but we were always confident,” said Marina Di Giacomo. “We had our chances in the first half, but did not score. We were more effective in the second half.”

It’s all about scoring at this Champions Trophy … and then the music is much sweeter, as the Dutch well know.

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