World Cup 2016 : Days 5 - 7 Grand Masters
By walesdragons, May 10 2016 08:51PM
Day 5 was a bitter-sweet day for Wales. Plaudits go to the O70s who scored their first ever international goals and their first ever international victory, 2-1 against Japan, to give them confidence as they press for a bronze medal. The first goal was a great individual effort by Martin Day and the second came from an Alan Coles penalty corner strike deflected in by Simon Williams. Japan replied late in the game through a penalty stroke. Is their a hidden message in the potentially unique fact that Wales had an all female bench of Ffion Robinson (Manager) and Linda Samuel (Physio).......
However the high hopes the O65s had of reaching the semi-finals were dashed by a strong New Zealand side who played fast, skilful hockey. New Zealand opened the scoring half way through the first quarter with a goal which clearly came off an NZ foot, but, despite strong pressure, failed to score again before half time. A second New Zealand goal followed but was erroneously disallowed for feet which were actually Welsh, but New Zealand finally extended their lead on the hour mark. Despite the pressure they were under Wales had a number of chances and crucially failed to convert a penalty stroke won by Chris Parry who caused some panic in the New Zealand defence when thrown forward as time wore on. Commendably pressing to the end, Wales finally scored with the last move of the game through Derek Wright who took his goal tally to four. This result and the Netherlands 3-0 defeat of South Africa meant we lost out to them for second place in the group and the semi-finals by three goals, the lesson being perhaps the need to take your chances early in tournaments. Because of the point carry over system in place, Wales are now favourites for 5th place in the 5th to 9th place play-offs starting with Scotland at 9.00am on Monday.
The O60s hopes of a semi-final place were even more cruelly dashed. First they watched a tame 3-0 win for Australia over Germany which meant both went through, Germany again on goal difference over Wales (with regrets of missed chances in our early tournament draw with Germany). This meant Wales went into a three way penalty shoot out with New Zealand and Scotland for two quarter final places which sadly ended in Wales finishing third. Sadly inspirational skipper Ian Johnson was injured as he took the first attempt for Wales. Whilst the rules of the tournament have long been known, it hardly seems that a team who scored two wins and a draw from four games should be edged out of the quarter finals by Scotland who won one game out of three and New Zealand who only drew one game out of three.
All 3 Welsh teams had a rest day on Sunday but its restorative powers were found to be variable as Day 7 dawned. The 65s played at 9.00am and seemed to never quite wake up against old foes Scotland. Wales were on top in the first half without playing their most penetrative hockey and went in at half time with a slender 1-0 lead through a Chris Hills penalty stroke (his first goal for Wales). Wales were unable to find their rhythm and with Scotland playing with increased confidence, found themselves playing too deep to generate any consistent pressure and Scotland eventually equalised in the final quarter. This result means Wales must beat Japan on their final match on Wednesday to take 5th place.
The O60s were severely hit by injury for their 9-13 play off versus Ireland and suffered a disappointing 0-5 defeat.
The success story of the day came with the O70s who played England in the age group semi-final. A valiant performance by the 12 of Wales saw them fight every inch of the way to hold England to 2 goals, one a penalty stroke. They so disrupted England's ability to play any sort of coherent hockey that they were unable to add to the 2 goals they scored in the second quarter. Whilst this was a true team effort, Wales were inspired by the experience and stubborn desire of Alan Coles, Martin Day, and Peter Havlin and Simon Williams who were limited to a half each due to injury. This matched the O70s opening day 0-2 defeat to Australia and must give them high hopes in the bronze medal play-off with Japan on Thursday.