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Date: 12/20/2015

Norway have claimed their third title with a decisive win against the Netherlands in the 22nd IHF Women’s Handball World Championship Final. The Scandinavian team, who were world champions in 1999 then again in 2011, now add the coveted trophy to a cabinet that also includes the most recent Olympic and European championship titles.

After the final, President of the IHF, Dr. Hassan Moustafa confirmed that Denmark 2015 had been an unparalleled success.

"This is the best women's world championship ever," he said. "I want in the name of everyone here present, to give my thanks and gratitude to the Danish Handball Federation and Organising Committee, especially to the volunteers. They all did a very good job."

Jyske Bank BOXEN, Herning
Final: Netherlands vs Norway 23:31 (9:20)

When Estavana Polman scored a relaxed ground shot in the first 30 seconds of the match and Tess Wester saved Norway’s first attempt at the other end of the court, it looked like the match would be a more even contest than it was. After Wester’s save the Netherlands were so fast in their counter attack that Norway’s impact attacker Nora Mørk had no time to substitute off – a rare occurrence for the speedy right back. 

The Netherlands’ defence was initially superb and Norway had to work hard to find gaps, but once the Scandinavian side got their engines started it became clear the Dutch needed to find something extra. Veronika Kristiansen scored Norway’s first goal off a nice cross from Mørk, initiating a run that could not be stopped by the Netherlands. 

In goal Kari Grimsbø caused a lot of trouble for the Netherlands’ shooters, finishing the first half with 14 saves at an incredible rate of 61%. The Netherlands chased hard but Norway were at their best, with right-handed Heide Løke scoring an outstanding goal with her left hand to take the score to 6:4 in the ninth minute. A two-minute suspension for Danick Snelder was costly for the Netherlands, and Camilla Herrem contributed two goals before the Dutch returned to full strength. 

Netherlands coach Henk Groener called a time-out and his team scored on the next attack with Sanne Van Olphen putting the score at 5:9 in the 13th. A period of no goals followed until Amanda Kurtovic scored a fast break to give Norway their first five-goal lead at 10:5 a little after the 15-minute mark. At that point the Netherlands began to make unforced errors in attack, and Groener swapped out Wester for Marieke Van Der Wal to take her place between the posts. 

But the Netherlands could not find an answer for Norway’s attack – and more importantly they simply could not get the ball past Grimsbø. By the 25-minute mark Norway led by seven at 15:8 and coach Thorir Hergeirsson had started to rest his stars in favour of gaining important championship Final experience for his up-and-coming young players. When Norway led by more than ten goals at half-time it was an ominous sign for the Netherlands.

Wester started in goal when the match resumed, but she could not stem the flow of Norwegian goals. Herrem scored a tricky spin shot that held Norway’s ten-goal advantage at 23:13 in the 35th minute, before the Netherlands began to slowly close the gap. When they had decreased the score line to 17:24 in the 43 minute Hergeirsson used his second time-out. 

The Netherlands crept closer to Norway, but they still trailed by six when the clock showed 50 minutes. With five minutes left the Netherlands tried the additional player instead of a goalkeeper tactic when Cornelia Groot was off on a two-minute suspension. Norway promptly punished them for that decision with Løke scoring into an empty goal, taking the score to 31:20 – an impossible deficit for the Netherlands to come back from.  

“Thank you to the Netherlands for a fair-played match. They have had fantastic development. We have been waiting for them in international handball to make it to the semi-finals, and they did it,” said Hergeirsson. “In our team Kari was the leader in the first half. She took some great saves and it’s because of the first half that we won the match.”

All-Star centre back Stine Oftedal added: “I think we have had an almost perfect championship. I hope we can continue this way for many years!”

“Today we had problems in the first half scoring and also in defence,” said Netherlands coach Henk Groener. “In the locker room I said: this is not how we deserve to finish this championship. We should fight point for point and we did, coming within five goals.”