World Hockey League Semi Finals - Unbeaten Heading Into Business Time

Unbeaten after four isn't a bad way to roll through pool play huh? A 3-3 draw could have very well been a 3-2 bar for a late Korean goal, but the Black Sticks have sealed 2nd spot in their pool as we head into knockout hockey. 

A draw was probably the fair result as both teams enjoyed thier share of the chances and when one team had a period of dominance, they weren't quite able to make the most of it. That was especially the case for the Black Sticks in the first half as they enjoyed more possession in the opposition half as well as far more ciricle penetrations, but were unable to bang a few goals in to top it off.

Korea are a well drilled unit who thrive on loose possession and opportunities to charge forward on the counter attack. Unfortunately the Black Sticks played right into this style as they turned over plenty of ball. A turn over in defence led to a Korean goal, while a turn over in the midfield led to another and sloppy passes restricted goal scoring chances.

Alternatively, you could praise the Koreans. They swarm on the ball carrier and intercept passes swiftly.

In fact, shout out to Korea. They are an exciting team to watch while being far from reckless and they gave us a bunch of creative penalty corner variations to admire, ironically their third goal came from a rocket of a drag flick.

I definitely wouldn't call it a polished attacking effort for the kiwis, despite scoring three goals. Instead, it was an example of this team being rewarded for their efforts and attacking intent. Hugo Inglis jinked his way through a bunch of Korean defenders on the circle's edge before nicely putting the ball past the keeper, Phil Burrows was perfectly positioned to pounce on a loose ball in the circle which he poked home while the third goal, well...

It was a very solid performance highlighted by the work rate of the team; they hounded Korean attackers and did their best to slow the Koreans up by getting as many bodies behind the ball as possible.

Shea McAleese continues to deliver crisp passes and was good going forward, especially when he's go a space to boost into. The midfield were improved in their efforts on attack but the team will be quick to praise their work rate in defence as they were always well positioned and made life difficult for the ball carrier. Chasing the Koreans is a difficult task in itself so you can imagine there would be moments where fatigue steps in and there is a slight lapse of concentration on attack.

Colin Batch would dfeinitely want his team to be able to string a few more passes together instead of passing being slightly off the mark or not being trapped. The third goal showed how hard it is to stop players on the same wavelength exchanging passes and in the next phase of the tournament they will need to take more care of the ball.

I believe the Black Sticks will play against Canada in their quarter final, don't quote me but it makes sense for the 2nd team from one pool to play 3rd from the other and 1st to play 4th. By that logic, the Netherlands will play Spain while Germany will take on Korea in the game of the quarter finals. The Black Sticks should be too good for Canada , especially if they are able to control the game with their passing and then put the majority of their chances away. With all due respect to Canada, this is a nice quarter final match up for the Black Sticks.