Vol. 5 Num 845 Tue. October 10, 2006  

Women's World Cup
Dutch delight

Hot favourites Netherlands, the world's top-ranked team, outplayed Australia to win the women's field hockey World Cup final 3-1 here Sunday.

The victory was set up by Miek Van Geenhuizen's superb skills controlling midfield while her combination with Minke Smabers cut off Australia's main attack throughout the match.

The title also improved on the Netherlands' previous two second places.

Netherlands had their opponents under pressure early in the game with Australia's defensive trio of Angie Skirving, Emily Halliday and goalkeeper Rachel Imison battling hard to keep out the many raids.

But gradually the Dutch midfield, led by Van Geenhuizen and Smabers, and backed by keeper Janneke Schopman, started to take control and near the break it was up to Imison to keep Australia in the match.

The Netherlands tactics almost paid off when striker Sylvia Karres claimed a goal from a quarter line hit deflection.

However the umpires referred the incident to the TV umpire with Australia claiming the deflection. Replays showed the Australians were correct, and the goal was disallowed.

After the break, the Netherlands went ahead when Maartje Paumen hit a low corner shot over the glove of Imison.

But then an Australian break led to a superb shot at goal.

It appeared to be brilliantly saved by Schopman on the line. After consultation, the TV umpire was called, a penalty stroke was awarded and converted by Rebecca Sanders for the equaliser.

Australia's defence held until a great backstick goal by Karres got behind Imison and the Netherlands led again.

With four minutes remaining Netherlands put the result beyond doubt when Fatima De Melo broke through into the left circle and a shot was fired which hit Skirving.

Paumen made no mistake with the penalty stroke and Netherlands powered home 3-1.

Maria Hernandez grabbed a hattrick as former champions Argentina brushed aside hosts Spain 5-0 to take third place.

England clinched seventh place when they defeated Germany 2-1.

The final rankings were Netherlands, Australia, Argentina, Spain, Japan, USA, England, Germany, Korea, China, India, South Africa.

The Netherlands team celebrate their Women's World Cup Field Hockey World Cup victory after their 3-1 win over Australia in the final in Madrid on Sunday. PHOTO: AFP