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Hockey World Cup: Netherlands edge past Australia to make final

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Netherlands advanced to the final after overcoming defending champions Australia 4-3 in sudden death in a pulsating hockey World Cup semi-final in Bhuvneshwar on Saturday. Australia were chasing their third straight title.

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It was a sweet revenge for the Dutch, who were thrashed 6-1 by Australia in the summit clash of the World Cup.

The game ended 2-2 in regulation time with Glenn Schuurman (9th) and Seeve van Ass (20th) putting the Netherlands ahead before Tim Howard (45th) and Eddie Ockenden (65th) pulled the Kookaburras back into the contest with seconds remaining for the final hoot.

In the shootout, Daniel Beale, Tom Craig and Jake Whetton scored for Australia, while Jeroen Hertzberger, Van Ass and Thijs van Dam kept the Dutch on course for the final with goals to take the encounter to sudden death.

Dutch goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak after a quiet evening turned out a hero when he stopped Beale’s attempt after Hertzberger had scored to carry the Netherlands to their second consecutive World Cup final.

They will take in Belgium in the summit clash on Sunday, while Australia face England in the bronze match for the third-fourth place.

Two-time champions and current title holders Australia started well pushing the Netherlands to their own half but it produced little results allowing the Netherlands to slowly get into the groove. After a slight Australian domination in the early exchanges, it was the Dutch, who produced the first enthralling moment of the game when Mark Van der Weerden nearly scored from the first penalty corner. But Kangaroo custodian Andrew Charter parried it away.

From there on the Dutch were the better team throughout the evening and after building enormous pressure on the reigning champions, they took the lead through in the ninth minute. The drag-flicker was set-up by Jonas de Gues’ brilliant run on the right flank. Van Ass then doubled the lead with his shot taking a deflection off Howard.

But trailing by two goals, Australia bounced back in the final quarter with two late goals – the final goal coming in added time – to take the game into the penalty shootouts. But it wasn’t to be and after lifting consecutive World titles in 2010 and 2014, Australia will now play the first losing semi-finalists England for the bronze medal.

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