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Hockey World League: Great Britain tops pool, to meet hosts India in QF

Raipur: India will face Great Britain in the quarterfinals here on Thursday after the British drew 3-3 with Belgium to top Pool A in the Hockey World League (HWL) Final at the Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel Stadium, here yesterday.

In what can be judged as the best match of the tournament, Great Britain and Belgium fought tooth and nail to get the better of the other. But in the end the draw was a just result as there was hardly anything to separate the two sides. In the quarterfinals tomorrow, Netherlands, which topped Pool B, will face Pool A laggards Canada while world champions Australia, who finished second in Pool A, will take on Olympic champions Germany.

Hosts India, who finished last in Pool B with just one point, will play Pool A toppers Great Britain while Belgium will be up against Argentina on Thursday. The last pool match between Great Britain and Belgium was neck and neck as both the teams played with tremendous pace from the opening whistle. Great Britain took the lead in the seventh minute with a field strike before Belgium equalised with a brilliant strike from Thomas Briels in the 13th minute.

It was an end to end hockey as both the teams attacked each other's citadel continuously but it was the British side which enjoyed the advantage at the halfway break after Alastair Brogdon restored their lead in the 28th minute. The second half was no different as both Belgium and Great Britain were in no mood to give an inch to the other.

The Red Lions equalised in the 38th minute through a fine field goal from Tanguy Cosyns before Great Britain took the lead for the third time in the match two minutes later when Alan Foryth found the back of the net. Trailing Belgium went on the offensive and attacked the Great Britain goal relentlessly and in the process earned a
penalty stroke which was beautifully executed by Tom Boon in the 42nd minute.

Earlier in the first match of the day, Australia completely dominated the proceedings from start to finish although they failed to score as many goals as they would have wanted. The Kookaburras started with a flurry, scoring as many as four goals in the first quarter. Australia toyed with the Canadian defence all throughout the match and surged ahead in the fourth minute through a field strike by Daniel Beale.

Seven minutes later, Jeremy Hayward (11th) doubled Australia's lead converting a penalty corner before Dylan Wotherspoon (13th) scored from a field effort two minutes later. Matthew Dawson made the scoreline 4-0 in favour of Australia in the final minute of the opening quarter by converting another penalty corner.

Australia continued to toy with the Canadian defence in the second and third quarter with barrage of attacks but were unlucky not to find the back of the net. The script was the same in the fourth and final quarter as Australia mounted attacks in numbers and finally tasted success in the last three minutes of the game scoring two more goals.

Kieran Govers converted a penalty corner in the 57th minute before Beale scored his second goal of the day in the final minute. Canada were no match for Australia as the Kookaburras enjoyed 75 per cent of possession as against their rival's 25 per cent. Australia earned as many as 19 penalty corners in the entire 60 minutes, out of which they utilised just three while Canada failed to register a single one.

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