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Valiant Effort From Wales Men Against India In Final Pool Match At Commonwealth Games

IMAGE: David P McCarthy

Ranked fifth in the world, India was always going to be a tough challenge for Wales men as they battled it our for a spot in the Commonwealth Games semi-final.

They put up a brilliant fight, but India’s penalty corner strength ultimately won out and helped to secure their 4-1 victory.

The game got off to a relatively quiet start in a tight and goalless first quarter. The first of ten penalty corners for India was confidently saved by Toby Reynolds-Cotterill.

A good steal by Dan Kyriakides led to a great chance for James Carson but his hit went straight to goalie’s Sreejesh Parattu Raveendran knees.

In the second quarter, India had a flurry of penalty corners, securing their first and second goals.

With Wales one man down due to a green card for Ben Francis, the same penalty corner routine saw Harmanpreet Singh’s powerful drag flick fly past Reynolds-Cotterrill.

An aerial from Jacob Draper was expertly controlled by Carson in the circle, but his resulting shot hit the near-side netting of the goal.

In the dying minutes of the first half, Rupert Shipperley missed one of Wales’ best chances of the game. A pass in the circle from Carson went just behind him and he couldn’t quite get his stick on it for the finish.

The second half brought more penalty corners for India. A crucial obstruction in the defence of one led to a penalty stroke for India. Singh fired it into the top-left corner, claiming his hat-trick and India’s third of the game.

Early in the final quarter, India got their fourth and their first field goal of the game when Harmanpreet Singh deflected a shot from Shamsher Singh into the back of the net.

Four goals down, Wales continued to fight and were finally awarded with their first penalty corner. The drag flick from Gareth Furlong was fired straight down the middle and saved by the foot of the goalkeeper.

After missed chances from Gareth Griffiths and Rhys Bradshaw, Wales earned their second penalty corner. This time, Furlong’s drag flick flew past the defenders and straight through the goalkeeper’s left foot, giving Wales their hard fought and well-deserved goal.

Soon after Ben Francis nearly made it two for Wales, but he couldn’t quite cross it into the goal.

In the final two minutes of the game, Wales successfully defended two more powerful penalty corners from India to deny more goals, leaving the score 4-1 to India at the final buzzer.

Wales now finish third in their pool and will play New Zealand for 5th/6th place on Sunday.

Despite not progressing through to the semi-finals, their performance has guaranteed a best ever finish at a Commonwealth Games.

Reflecting on the match, captain Luke Hawker said "We would like to have thrown a few more punches and got a little closer to them. They scored a couple of corners at a crucial moment and suffocated us.”

"We struggled to get momentum early on and had to do a lot of defending, which took the legs out of us a little bit. Towards the end, we created a couple of opportunities and scored a goal, but it was too little, too late."

"For us, it's about understanding how we take on a top 10 team. We're getting closer – if you go back to the Europeans [in 2021], we were a long way off, and here I think we're a lot closer to England and India than we have been” Hawker added.

"Our win against Canada earlier in the week was the first time we won a game in the group stages of the Commonwealth Games. We take a huge amount of confidence from that. Hopefully it is a sign of things to come.”

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