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Hockey preview - 30 July

30 July 2002

The two men’s hockey pools will be decided today with the winners from each group going straight into the semi-finals.

Matt Smith

Matt Smith in action for Australia at Belle Vue

The two men’s hockey pools will be decided on Tuesday with the winners from each group going straight into the semi-finals.

The teams finishing second and third go into cross-over matches with the Pool 3 runners-up playing the third placed team in Pool 4 and second in Pool 4 meeting third from Pool 3. The two bottom teams will play off for 7th and 8th places.

Australia from Pool 3 along with Pakistan in Pool 4 are the favourites for the automatic places in the last four. Each of them has a maximum six points.

The Australians are certainly fireproof as their final group fixture is against Barbados, a team sadly out of their depth at this tournament.

So will the reigning Commonwealth champions ease up against their luckless opponents? Not a chance, as their captain, Matt Wells, points out. “To relax is to be weak, and that’s not our style!” Enough said.

New Zealand and South Africa, with three points each and little to choose between them, will scrap for second and third places in the other group match.

Pool 4 is more open with England on three points and still nursing a hope of overhauling Pakistan. To do that, though, they will have to beat Wales on Tuesday while looking to Canada to upset Pakistan.

Wales and Canada have just one point apiece and are capable of springing surprises. The clash between Wales and England in fact promises to be the match of the day with passion and rivalry spicing things up.

The Canadians, peeved at the controversial penalty-flick decision which cost them a draw with England on Sunday, could still be angry enough to have a real go at Pakistan.

As Rob Short said after being pipped by England: “We are still pumped up and very much in there.”

So the Aussies rule OK in their pool, but watch out for fireworks in England’s group!

Info News Service/dm/pjt

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