12th September 2o16: Wales secured qualification for the Men’s Hockey World League (HWL) Round 2 after winning four out of four matches in Glasgow this week 6th – 11th September 2016. Scotland, as runners up also qualify for HWL, Round 2.
Wales opened their campaign with a 4 – 1 win over Portugal and backed this up with a tense 2 – 1 win over Switzerland, a strong start to what proved to be a great week for the men in red.
The Portuguese game started at a ferocious pace and Wales quickly had Portugal on the back foot as they sought an early goal. Despite a number of chances, the Portuguese were able to keep Wales at bay for the opening period. After some relentless pressure from Wales a goal for Wales seemed inevitable, and the deadlock was finally broken on 17 minutes when defender Gareth Furlong clinically dispatched a penalty corner. This was followed up with goals from Robert Mugridge, Luke Hawker and Rhys Gowman.
Second game of the tournament Wales faced Switzerland and once again ended with an excellent 2-1 win. Having fallen behind 1-0 to Switzerland at half time, the Wales did not hold back and scored a penalty corner early in the second half, taken by defender Gareth Furlong, his second of the week. Double trouble Luke Hawker added a second, to bring up his second goal of the campaign.
After a well-deserved rest day, Wales took on Slovakia in their third match of the tournament. Wales dominated the game very confidently by taking a 5-0 lead in the first half. Slovakia tried their hardest to overpower the mighty dragons, but failed to do so when an exceptional result of a 10-1 win to Wales showed the determination, ability and team work of the players and back room staff.
Benjamin Francis took his chances scoring 4 goals during the game along with James Carson, Owain Dolan-Gray and Rupert Shipperely.
Sailing through comfortably to the HWL Round 2, Wales played hosts Scotland in their fourth and final game to determine who would be group winners. The game was a tense affair, however Wales started strong racing into a 2 – 0 lead, both from Gareth Furlong, to shock the hosts in front of a partisan crowd. Scotland pulled a goal back before young player of the tournament Dale Hutchinson added a third, to leave Wales in control at the half, 3 – 1. Ending the tournament on a high with not only going through to the second round, but securing a well deserved group winners spot. A tight second half saw Scotland add a second to leave the game poised at 3 – 2 however Wales were resolute and eventually ran out winners.
Head Coach Zak Jones said “”I am obviously delighted for the guys. Winning WL1 is just reward for all the time, commitment and sacrifices they have made during this years programme. Yesterday’s game was another physical, tight, tense encounter. However, once again, this relatively inexperienced group found a way to come through. I am hugely proud of their performances in winning 4 from 4 and also in the manner in which the group carries and conducts itself. We have made some huge progress technically, tactically and physically in the last 8/9 months and this is really beginning to show in our performances. What is even more pleasing is that I feel there is still much more to come from this young, talented, hard working group.”
For more information on Hockey World League go to www.fih.ch
Source information: Hockey Wales and Scottish Hockey
Photograph: All teams at the Hockey World League in Glasgow (Duncan Gray (c))