Indian junior men’s hockey team lost 1-5 to NSW Waratahs in the bronze medal match of Australian Hockey League on Sunday. The game started off at a fast pace, and India were caught out early by NSW’s quick movement and sharp passing, as Lachlan Sharp scored the first goal in the sixth minute.
As the game settled down, the Indians found their rhythm and started distributing the ball fluidly within their ranks. Despite that, the Waratahs defence held strong to take them into the first break with the lead.
In a fast and exciting second quarter, the Waratahs hit India with goals in the 16th minute (Tom Craig) and then in the 23rd minute (Landon Morley).
India also suffered with Varun Kumar getting a green card immediately after and conceding the numerical advantage. It would not matter though as Gurjant Singh pegged back NSW’s dominance with a penalty corner conversion in the 25th minute to bring the deficit down to two as they went into halftime.
The Indians came out of halftime raring to go. Perhaps aware of the late surging ability of the Indians, NSW played cautiously, defending deep and holding the ball for long periods when they did effect turnovers.
India constantly created circle penetrations but were unable to find the final pass. Right at the end of the third quarter, NSW’s Landon Morley converted from a penalty corner to take them into the final break leading 4-1.
India came out in the final quarter looking for the comeback but NSW’s deep lying defensive structure denied them any width and opportunity to do so. The Waratahs capitalised on India’s attacking intent to add another goal to their tally with a counter attack in the final minute of the game via Tom Craig.
Speaking after the game, Indian coach Harender Singh said, “We use the AHL as a preparatory tournament for the Junior World Cup later this year and its is quite heartening to see that the boys have held their own against the teams in the league.
“At crucial times we have made some small mistakes, but we would rather make them now and learn and correct them, than in Lucknow in December,” he said.