The third day of play at the 2015 Polocrosse World Cup saw the final round of the group games and meant that the line ups for the semi finals is now known. Zambia booked their place first with a win against New Zealand which meant they topped their group with three wins from three. Then the UK beat Ireland to come second in the other group. Then Australia confirmed that they would top the UK’s group as they overcame Zimbabwe, though Zimbabwe pushed them hard. Finally, the hosts South Africa put themselves through to the semi final as they beat the USA.

The semi final line ups will be Zambia versus the UK and South Africa will take on Australia, in what should be a thrilling match as the two countries have won the last three world cups between them and both will be very keen to add another. The Zambians will probably be pleased to have the UK rather than Australia in the semi finals but likewise the UK are probably pleased to have Zambia rather than South Africa, despite the fact Zambia beat South Africa on day 1. Since then South Africa have stepped up a gear and their victories against New Zealand and the USA were fairly comprehensive.

On day three the play kicked off with Zambia versus New Zealand and it was Zambia who lead from early on. They missed their first chance at goal but after that they made sure of pretty much everything. New Zealand dug deep but couldn’t win as much ball and when they had it they didn’t make sure of it every time.  It was the Zambian ladies section that really made sure of the victory, they won their half of the game by 11-5, while the men drew 8 all, though that was mainly due to a strong last chukka from the New Zealand men  which they won 5-1. Up until then the Zambia men had had a good match and Mikey Krynauw, the Zambian number 1, was again cleaning out ball well at the front and linking up well with his other players. There were a couple of well timed long balls from Damien Harris, in the Zambian number 3 shirt, which Mikey Krynauw just cooly ran on to and mopped up off the ground before shooting it between the posts at all angles. Kelly Krynauw, who is married to Mikey, in the other section was also shooting in goals from all angles and linking well with Lauren Watson and Audrey Logan behind her, who won her a good supply of ball out of the line out. The end result was a 19-13 win for Zambia and means at their second World Cup Zambia have made the semi finals.

In the second game of the day, the UK booked their spot in the semi final to face Zambia with a good win over Ireland. Ireland kept it close at first and it was 9-7 after 3 chukkas but then the UK’s player coach Jason Webb seemed to step it up a notch and he won them a lot of ball at the back of the line out, both in the air and on the ground, and the UK won the fourth chukka 6-0. After that Ireland couldn’t really find a big enough response, they continued to fight and took most of the chances they had but the UK had more ball and continued to add goals to eventually win 20-11. The UK will be pleased with the fact they seem to have improved each day. They looked nervous at points against Zimbabwe, today their men looked far more solid and their young number 1 Max Pedley seems to grow in confidence with each game. However they will face a much tougher test when they face Zambia in the semi finals and probably are quite pleased that they did not end up in a group with South Africa and Zambia to start with.

In the third game Australia made sure that they topped their group but they had to fight hard for it, particularly as Zimbabwe launched a late comeback to make the score just 19-16. The Zimbabwean ladies section actually beat their Australian opposition and if the Zimbabwean men had won as much ball in the first two chukkas as they did in the last they would have made it even closer. Australia owe their victory to their men’s section, who won their first two chukkas 6-0 and 6-1 with some great work from Will Weston winning ball out the back and the Grills cousins slotting the ball between the post.

Each time the ladies came on the Zimbabweans narrowed the gap again and overall the Zimbabwean ladies won 10-6. In the final chukka as well the Zimbabwean men also won as Hamish Michael seemed to be quicker out the back, possibly due to a new horse underneath him, and they moved Terrance Keith to number 1 and he snapped a couple of balls in the line out and got on the end of a couple of long balls from Hamish Michael to make the chukka score 5-1 in Zimbabwe’s favour. However, the damage had already been done and Australia emerged victorious. This was the first African nation that Australia have faced in the competition and perhaps their fans will be slightly unnerved by how hard what is now probably the weakest of the three African countries pushed them, though they now have a few days to go away and prepare for their semi final against South Africa.

In the final match of the day South Africa beat the USA but the USA fought hard throughout and drew the first chukka 3-3. However, the final score was 25-10, the USA just didn’t have enough ball to keep pace with South Africa. Also, when South Africa have the ball they don’t hesitate to pass and run, it is instinctive and they think nothing of throwing a 30 yard pass straight to a player’s racquet. The USA at points were guilty of hesitating, not passing the ball or making a move and that gave the South Africans time to reorganise their defence and make life harder for them. However, to be able to do what South Africa do is about having pinpoint passing and complete confidence that you have the stick skills to be able to cope with hitting the thirty yard line at top speed. Both the South African men and ladies were very impressive, the men normally get the plaudits as they tend to pass the ball further and look more flashy but today their ladies were no less accurate with their passing at speed. There are other teams out there who can also do it, Zambia and Australia have showed that over the last few days, but unfortunately the USA could not match it today.

So we know the line ups for the semi finals and we will be back next weekend to bring you the results!