EHL Semi-finals: HGC 7 Rotterdam 4

Rotterdam and the Hague may be separated by scarcely 30 kilometres of motorway but events on the other side of the world was the key factor in dividing these two sides.

HGC made hard work of their win in what was an absolute cracker with formations and tactics thrown out the window for the sake of entertainment. In the end, they had too much class up front, with Barry Middleton and Timmo Kranstauber running riot as both sets of local supporters rocked the house.

Bram Lomans opened the scoring with a drag-flick to make it 1-0 after a fairly even first quarter before HGC pulled away in the second, when Rody Hofkamp latched onto a defensive howler before Kranstauber tapped in the third from close range.

It followed up great work from Iain Lewers who laid the ball into the path of late call-up Floris van der Linden. He danced down the end-line to set up an easy finish and it looked as if the Wassenaar club would run away with the game.

Sohail Abbas pulled one back from a corner before a tidy, tic-tac passing move saw John Jermyn play in Kenny Pereira. He laid on for Joris Elbers whose scored at the second attempt to put three goals between the side by the break.

At that point, there was a massive difference in class as Rotterdam attempted to make up for the loss of three New Zealand internationals and one Australian who are in action in the Sultan Azlan Shah cup in Malaysia. They were also rocked by the loss of two of their Hertzberger brothers and Dutch striker Tigges to injury before the game.

Only Wasseem Ahmed and Jeroen Hertzberger looked a threat, however, they made a real game of it in the second half in the sweltering heat.

Middleton created two gilt-edged chances early in the second half but it was Jeroen Hertzberger who scored next. And what a goal, he did a rake of solo work, making an opening down the right flank before punching a stunning shot over Guus Vogels’ shoulder.

Abbas nailed another drag to make it 4-3 with 22 minutes still left and recovering the game which looked as if it could have gone flat.

Chances flew back and forth as both sides took turns to chase the game.

The killer goal, though, came three minutes into the fourth quarter as captain Mike Husken was given a free run from a long-corner, working his way into the circle before rifling in a reverse. It was half-stopped but Elbers was on hand to tap home at the second attempt.

Middleton got the sixth, profiting from a scrappily-dealt with overhead that he pinged home before Perreira got the magnificent seventh, scooping in after Robin de Munk made the chance.

Michael de Vugt got a late consolation with 50 seconds to go in a spectacular game.

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