Day Seven: The Vitality Hockey Women's World Cup

Australia World Cup 1
Australia and Germany secured their quarter final places at the Vitality Hockey Women's World Cup as South Africa and Japan were sent home on day seven of the tournament.

Belgium put in an impressive display to beat Japan in pool D while a draw was enough for both Australia and New Zealand to reach the knockout stages.

Germany secured top spot in Pool C with a 3-1 win over Spain while South Africa frustrated Argentina to hold them to a 1-1 draw.

Pool D:

Belgium won a thrilling, high-scoring encounter with Japan 6-3, while Australia and New Zealand shared a 1-1 result. 

Belgium coach Niels Thijssen said: “Our dream was to come through the group, whether that was first, second or third I would have been happy with that before the tournament. Another game is perfect for us, it's what we want.”

After tonight’s results, Australia win the pool, with Belgium directly behind them, and the Black Sticks third. As pool winners, Australia gain direct access to the quarter finals, with Belgium playing Spain and New Zealand facing Argentina in the crossover stage on Monday.  

The first of nine goals In the clash between Belgium and Japan came from the stick of Judith Vandermeiren at a short corner in the seventh minute.

With Japan struggling to match the intensity and pressing from Tuesday’s victory over New Zealand, the Red Panthers doubled their lead through Jill Boon’s deflection in the 17th minute. Anne-Sophie Weyns extended Belgium’s lead after a fantastic pirouette-and-pass from Boon to see the Red Panthers go into the half-time break 3-0 up. 

Belgium started the second half where they left off in the first, scoring three minutes into the third quarter through Louise Versavel, before Japan pulled a goal back from a short corner.

Nothing summed up the contrasting fortunes of the teams at that stage of the match than the 39th minute, when Versavel scored her second to make it 5-1 to Belgium, with Japan’s Motomi Kawamura being shown yellow shortly after. 

Versavel brought up her hat-trick two minutes into the final quarter. With victory secured, the Red Panthers could perhaps be forgiven for taking their foot off the gas, and two more short-corner goals from Japan – to make it three for them in the match – made the final score 6-3. 

Jill Boon contributed with a goal and an assist and isn’t ready to call time on the Red Panthers’ World Cup adventure. She said: “We fear no one but respect everyone. We are ranked thirteen, and every coming game will be super hard, but we’re going to fight like hell to get through.” 

The match between Australia and New Zealand set off at a brilliant pace with both sides looking to attack and press, resulting in an end-to-end opening quarter. There were chances for both sides but two minutes before the first break New Zealand edged ahead.

A give and go opened the Australian defence and after the initial shot was saved, Olivia Merry slapped home the rebound for her third goal of the tournament. Australia almost levelled immediately but a strong reverse strike was chested away by Sally Rutherford.

The scores were levelled immediately after the first break. Edwina Bone’s crashed ball into the circle was well collected by captain Emily Smith who coolly tucked her effort past the onrushing Rutherford.

Just before the half-time break New Zealand thought they had taken the lead through Samantha Harrison. A counter attack started by Michelsen saw Harrison freed into the circle but her reverse stick strike was ruled out after a review showed she had used the back of her stick.

The second half continued to entertain as both sides played positively under the light. There we chances aplenty but neither side was able to carve open the clear cut opportunity to take the lead and the win.

Australia’s Ambrosia Malone, playing in her first major tournament at the age of 20, was delighted with the first-place group finish for her country. She said: “To not have the pressure of the crossover and being straight through the quarter finals is obviously really important to us, so we’re very happy to be on top. 

“And that’s what we’ve aimed to do, get better with each game and not lose a game.”

South Africa World Cup

Pool C:

Die Danas made sure of finishing first in the pool as Anne Schroder, Selin Oruz and Viktoria Huse all found the net while South Africa are eliminated despite their valiant draw with Argentina.

Spain finish in third while Argentina take second place and both now head into the crossovers to decide if they reach the quarter finals. 

Looking to continue their 100% start Germany began positively and took the lead after just five minutes. From a penalty corner the ball was returned to the injector and Anne Schroder flicked over the keeper from a tight angle.

On the stroke of half-time Spain drew level from another penalty corner. The original drag-flick hit a German foot and flew high into the air dropping towards three players but it was Carmen Cano who go the final touch to send it into the net.

Germany responded strongly though striking twice in three minutes soon after the half-time break with Selin Oruz and Viktoria Huse on target. 

A fast-paced and frantic final quarter entertained the crowds but there we no more goals as Germany held on for victory and in doing so secured top spot in pool C.

There was a shock in the second game of the session as South Africa held Argentina to a 1-1 draw. Despite the draw South Africa are eliminated from the tournament while Las Leonas secured second place in pool C.

Argentina struggled to break down a determined South African defence and found themselves trailing as Jade Mayne snuck in to deflect past Belen Succi from close range just before half-time.

Maria Jose Granatto was on hand to eventually level for Argentina lifting the ball into the net to complete a fine flowing move.

Argentina threw everything at South Africa to try and grab a winner but despite a late barrage of penalty corners couldn’t break through.