Investec London Cup Final: Netherlands 4-1 Australia.

Two penalty corner goals from Captain Maartje Paumen and a fifth goal of the tournament from Kelly Jonker helped the Netherlands to overcome Australia in a pulsating game in front of a packed house.

The first half was a bruising encounter with no quarter asked or given. The umpires let a number of physical challenges go unpunished as any doubts about how seriously these sides were taking the game quickly vanished.

Jade Close was a constant thorn in the Dutch side as Australia’s high press upset the Dutch rhythm. Claire Messent went close diving in to get on the end of a cross and Jade Close herself was unlucky not to see her deflection hit the target.

On 9 minutes, Hope Munro won possession in the Dutch 25. There was only one thing on her mind as she drove towards the D, unleashing a powerful shot as soon as she entered. Joyce Sombroek was beaten but the ball rattled the crossbar and bounced to safety.

Australia had the first penalty corner chance, but Anna Flanagan’s effort went over the top.

Somewhat against the run of play, the Netherlands took the lead in the 28th minute. Some excellent work from Claire Verhage set up a chance for Carlien Dirkse van de Heuvel who calmly shot high into the net.

Munro went close again after being set up by Georgia Nanscawen, but there were no more goals before half time.

The Oranje made a bright start to the second half and scored their second after 9 minutes of the half. Paumen converted a drag flick from a penalty corner.

The Hockeyroos were still creating their chances and a fine double save from Sombroek kept out Emily Smith. Kelly Jonker grabbed her fifth goal of the tournament to give her a share of the top scorer award, showing her finishing prowess yet again on 46 minutes.The goals were coming thick and fast as Nanscawen pulled one back for the Green and Gold with her first of the week on 47 minutes making it three goals in as many minutes.

Kitty van Male and Sophie Polkamp drew saves out of Toni Cronk as the Netherlands tried to re-establish their cushion, but still Smith was proving a threat, forcing Sombroek into action at the other end. With Australia building up a head of steam, Paumen showed her class once more: Having shaved the post minutes earlier from a penalty corner, she adjusted her range and scored, via the inside of the post in the 56th minute giving Cronk no chance at all.

With the clock running down, Naomi Van As drifted effortlessly past Jodie Schulz and Kobie McGurk, she drew Cronk and tried to slide the ball underneath the goalkeeper but the chance was well smothered by the Australia No1 and Jonker squandered the rebound.

The Dutch ran out the clock to clinch the gold medal, which you’d have to say, they thoroughly deserved.

Max Caldas, the Dutch coach was understandably delighted with his side’s efforts: “It’s been a good week for us, not just because we won, but I’m please with how well we played. I have 23 very good players and my job [selection] has been made harder by their performances this week, which as a coach is exactly what you want.”

Adam Commens congratulated his opponents but was positive about his team’s efforts: “I’m encouraged by our 1st half performance today, our work ethic has been good all week, but being one player light [due to Ashleigh Nelson’s illness] took its toll in the end. We weren’t clinical enough, but we’ll go away and eradicate these errors in time for the Olympics.”

And so, the 2012 Investec London Cup drew to a close. There is much food for thought for coaches and players alike. Bring on the real thing!

About thetopofthed

Columnist for The Hockey Paper and the man behind The Top of the D. Writer, podcaster, goalkeeper and BBC Sport man. Used to work for Great Britain Hockey and have covered the sport at every major tournament.
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