Hockey World Cup 2018: Semifinal - Australia vs Netherlands - 3 talking points
The boisterous Kookaburras' fans in the stands were brimming with confidence as "Advance Australia Fair" rang out at the Kalinga Stadium. The two-time defending champions were looking good enough to make it three in a row despite not having as consistent a run as many would have expected them to in this World Cup.
The Dutch had struck a fine balance between dribbling and passing throughout the tournament and closed the passing lines against the Indians - but decided to come out with all guns blazing against the world champions.
The Aussies began as they always do by swarming ahead in numbers and Blake Govers, Dylan Wotherspoon, Aran Zalewski, and Tom Craig took turns to make their way into the Dutch circle with Daniel Beale being the architect of the moves.
Billy Bakker decided to get the Dutch moving when he sprinted ahead, all by himself and earned a PC which van der Weeden failed to convert - but gave his side some much-needed momentum which finally led to a goal by Glenn Schuurman in the ninth minute.
Mirco Pruyser then hit the post with a deflection off a cross from Billy Bakker and Seve van Ass doubled the lead for the Dutch in the second quarter. The Aussies had numerous chances but the ball failed to fall kindly for Batch's boys, and when it did, Blaak in goal was simply unbeatable.
Tim Howard got the Aussies back into the game at the end of the third quarter but the Dutch seemed to have done enough with time running out - and with Batch's strikers unable to latch on to the crucial crosses in the striking circle.
With less than twenty seconds left on the clock, Eddie Ockenden found the equalizer in dramatic style to take the match into a shootout which was then followed by sudden death.
We take a took 3 factors that may have influenced the final outcome of the match which ended with a 2-2 (4-3) scoreline in favour of the Dutch.
#3 Caldas keeps his word
"We are going to try and attack them as we feel they have not been attacked enough," said Max Caldas before the match - and sure enough, his chargers stormed the Australian circle with lightning-quick counterattacks which caught the world champions off guard.
Several turnovers were effected from midfield as the Dutch exerted severe pressure on the ball carriers and stole the ball almost at will. Sure enough, the Kookaburras wilted under pressure and were kept pegged back in defence for large parts of the match when in fact they would have loved to advance.
The Dutch played like they had nothing to lose and were willing to have a go to see if it worked. Throwing caution to the winds against a team like Australia was indeed a brave thing to do, and the ferocity of the attacks was something which Batch's boys had not experienced thus far in the tournament,
The ploy worked on the day, due to the sheer pace of the Dutch who managed to scamper to the other end of the pitch in seconds and were aided, in no small measure, by their custodian in goal who had a match to remember.