Commonwealth Games - Hockey gold for Aussies; England miss bronze

Thu, 14 Oct 10:45:00 2010

Australia continued their dominance of the Commonwealth Games men's hockey tournament with an 8-0 thrashing of hosts India to claim a fourth successive gold medal while New Zealand beat England on penalties after a 3-3 draw to claim the bronze medal.

Australia's players pose with their gold medals after beating India in their men's field hockey final match at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi October 14, 2010 - 0

Played under a blinding sun in sweltering heat, Australia's brand of power hockey proved too strong for India as the world champions scored four goals in each half to maintain a run of success dating back to the sport's debut at the event in 1998.

Jason Wilson and Luke Doerner scored two apiece, while Chris Ciriello, Simon Orchard, Jamie Dwyer and Glenn Turner completed the rout with a goal each.

Cheered on by a near-capacity crowd, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, India made a bright start before Australia took complete control once they had gauged the home side's strengths and weaknesses.

Despite the nature of their final defeat, India can take heart from a rare success on the international stage in a sport that has suffered a steady decline since the last of eight Olympic triumphs in 1980.

Australia coach Ric Charlesworth, who failed to revive India's sagging fortunes when hired as an advisor in 2008 after repeated run-ins with the federation and sports ministry officials, had a word of praise for the beaten hosts.

"India showed in the first 20 minutes they can play well," the Australian told reporters.

"I think their Spanish coach (Jose Brasa) has made a difference. Maybe they wanted favourable conditions but were affected by the heat. They played night games the whole time and found the heat challenging."

Brasa, whose contract expires after next month's Asian Games, said India's players were tired after a hectic schedule but admitted they had been outplayed.

"Australia are the best side in the world... They have an excellent domestic circuit and league, something we should have in India," Brasa said.

A dramatic late comeback from England - Simon Mantell completing his hat-trick - saw the bronze match finish at 3-3 and forced extra time and as the added period finished goalless, the match went to penalties.

As was the case against hosts India in the semi-finals, England missed their third effort, this time the culprit was Adam Dixon, and Shea McAleese notched the Kiwis' fifth in a row to seal victory.

History repeated itself for England, who also lost in the bronze medal match four years ago in Melbourne to Malaysia.

"There's not many words to describe it; [I'm] absolutely gutted right now," said Mantell. 

"Four years ago a similar thing happened against Malaysia that we should have won.  But today was tough. 

"We didn't start particularly well but we put in an awesome fight and just played our hockey.  We had chances but their goalie had a great game."

England could count themselves fortunate to even force extra time, trailing 3-1 with 16 minutes left on the clock after goals from Dean Couzins, Nick Haig and Hayden Shaw put the Kiwis in a commanding position.

But having notched England's first, Mantell ten bagged a quickfire double to level for England and force extra time, with Jason Lee's side in the ascendancy.

Both sides had chances to win it in extra time but neither could find a way through, and once more England's penalty curse struck to leave Lee's men empty-handed.

England captain Barry Middleton said: "We dominated most parts of the game.  We were better than the New Zealand team. It's just that we couldn't put our chances away. To lose in a penalty shoot-out twice in three days is really unfortunate."

More than the Games / Reuters

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