'12Henri RaesH. Raes
'20Kirk ShimminsK. Shimmins
'22Shane O'DonoghueS. O'Donoghue
'35Harry MorrisH. Morris
'44Florent van AubelF. v. Aubel
'22Jody HoskingJ. Hosking
'46Felix DenayerF. Denayer
'47Luke MadeleyL. Madeley
'56Robbert RubensR. Rubens
KO16: KHC Dragons 4 Three Rock Rovers 2 (2-1)
KHC Dragons eventually shook off the intentions of Three Rock Rovers 4-2 as their experience told against the Irish champions, putting them through to Saturday’s KO8.
In a lively opening quarter, Henri Raes juggled in a ball from close range after Jamie Carr had saved from Florent van Aubel, the striker just about beating Carr’s recovery dive.
Rovers replied with a superb counter-attack goal, Mitch Darling stealing the ball on halfway and he worked the opening via Ben Walker to set up Jody Hosking to sweep in.
Dragons went back in front when Shane O’Donoghue scored a corner against his compatriots for 2-1 in the 22nd minute. Harry Morris, though, levelled the game for a second time early in the second half from another turnover deep in the Dragons half, turning right in the circle and shooting past Tobias Walter.
The Belgian club, however, started to take control in this phase and they went in front via a brilliant diagonal aerial to Robbert Rubens who played the ball perfectly into the path of van Aubel to turn home the chance.
A minute into the final quarter, a clever corner move saw Luke Madeley end up blocking the ball on the line with his foot and Felix Denayer converted the penalty stroke for 4-2.
Rovers had four corners in the last 10 minutes but Walter saved all with comfort to close out his side’s victory.
For Three Rock’s Harry Morris, it was a second EHL goal in two KO16 matches but he was not focusing on his goal.
“First and foremost, to get back to 2-2 from where we were, we are gutted we didn’t kick on from there. There were some sloppy aerials that we let go and give away which, when you get to this stage for European hockey, those lapses lead to short corners and lead to goals and losses.
“We can take a lot from it and this is where we want to be, competing with the best in Europe, at this stage in the competition to get back here. A lot depends on our next game but we will take positives from this and move on.”
Irish man Shane O’Donoghue, meanwhile, said Dragons can learn a lot from this battle: “We knew it would be tough, knowing the guys in the Irish team and playing against them for the last couple of seasons. They have all the Irish traits – they won’t give in easy, made it difficult for us from minute one.
“First half, we didn’t handle it well but the second half, experience showed and we calmed the nerves and took the chances when they came.
O’Donoghue was deployed in a sweeper role rather than the midfield role he plays internationally, something he is enjoying learning.
“Playing in defence, you have to be a bit more intelligent about what you do, not being gung-ho going forward. Maybe we made some mistakes today that could have been costly so it’s important for us to reassess because this gave us a wake-up call that we needed.”