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Australia demolish Kiwis 6-2, sail into Men's Hockey Final

World champions Australia did justice to their tournament favourite billing as they thrashed New Zealand 6-2 to storm into the final of the men's hockey event of Delhi 2010 today. Even though New Zealand tried to force their way into the match in the second half, but Australia proved too strong for the Black Sticks as they pumped in three goals each in both the halves to register a comfortable win.

New Zealand pulled two goals back in the second half to give some fight to Australia, but the Kookaburras powered their way into the gold medal match with twin strikes in the last three minutes. Incidentally, the match between Australia and New Zealand was an exhibition of field goals as not a single strike was from set pieces.  Simon Orchard (25th, 70th minute) and Glenn Turner (28th, 67th) scored a double each while Jason Wilson (31st) and Desmond Abbott (43rd) also sounded the board once for Australia.

For New Zealand Blair Hilton (51st) and captain Phil Burrows (60th) reduced the margin. The first half was a one-sided affair as Australia put the Kiwi defence under pressure from the onset. If not for an agile Kyle Pontifex, the defeat could have been more embarrassing for New Zealand. The Kiwi custodian saved his side on a number of occasions in the first 20 minutes, including a double save -- first stopping Glenn Turner's shot and then denying a Rob Hammond’s rebound.

However, the world champions found the New Zealand net thrice in a span of six minutes to stamp their authority in the counter. Orchard finally broke the deadlock in the 25th minute when he scored from an Abbott pass, past a full-stretched Pontifex and then Turner made it 2-0 three minutes later. Seven minutes from the break Simon Child got a golden opportunity to reduce the scoreline but his shot from top of the circle was saved by an ever-agile Nathan Burgers.

As if the double strike was not enough for the Black Sticks, Wilson scored another after latching on to a mistake by Kiwi defence into the breather with a 3-0 lead. The Australians continued from where they left and made it 4-0 in the 43rd minute through Abbott. New Zealand, however, pulled two back within 10 minutes to put some fight against the dominant Aussies. 
   
Hilton turned out to be the beneficiary of Luke Doerner's mistake in the Aussie defence as he made no mistake in making the scoreline 4-1. Just 10 minutes from the hooter, Burrows scored another for the Black Sticks to make a match out of the encounter. But it was not to be New Zealand's day as Australia came back strongly with twin strikes in the last three minutes to run away with the match and a place in Friday's final, where they will face either England or crowd favourites India. - PTI