After an impressive win over Spain, the last time they were on the pitch, the Vantage Black Sticks Men have come away with a comprehensive 5-3 win over the reigning Olympic Champions Argentina. The Black Sticks were buoyed by an outstanding performance from goalkeeper Leon Hayward who gave them the confidence to push forward on the attacking side of the field.
Black Sticks Men's Coach Darren Smith commented "It was nice to get five goals against a quality opponent. We defended well and were able to contain their dangerous strike forwards. Our strike line was energetic and played with genuine pace as they put together a strong performance".
The contest started as a bit of an arm wrestle which saw the play go back and forth as neither side was able to hold the possession for long periods.
New Zealand started to build some pressure on the Argentina defence. Eventually, this pressure translated to reward on the scoreboard when a well-placed ball into the circle was collected by Sam Lane who eliminated the Argentina defender and slotted the ball into the back of the goal.
After suffering an early setback, Argentina came roaring back into the match when Maico Casella was left open in the circle and ripped a reverse through Leon Hayward's legs tying the game.
Early in the second quarter, both sides were constructing a promising attack and went close on several occasions. Neither team was able to break the deadlock in the second quarter as the match would be tied at one goal apiece heading into the second half.
The Kiwis were able to stun Argentina early in the second half when a runaway from deep in the New Zealand zone resulted in a fantastic baseline run that was finished off by a Dylan Thomas deflection to put New Zealand back in the lead.
Argentina was able to replicate their reply from the first half as they would storm back down the field and convert a timely well-placed drag flick into the Bottom of the Kiwis goal.
Both teams were able to earn themselves penalty corner opportunities late in the third quarter. However, the defensive units from both sides proved too good as they would shut down every opportunity that was thrown at them.
New Zealand continued to play with attacking freedom were able to put themselves back in the lead when a diving Jared Panchia managed to outhustle the Argentina defenders to sweep the ball into the goal.
As was the case in this match, Argentina once more hit back with a second drag-flick goal of the game that was ripped into the top of the New Zealand goal setting up what looked to be a grandstand finish.
Cory Bennett not to be outdone by the Argentina drag flickers would power his flick into the top of the net to put the New Zealand side back in the lead with eight minutes to go in the match.
Moments later it was Dominic Newman who extended the Kiwis lead with a goal in his return to the National Team.
The Kiwis were able to absorb the onslaught that Argentina threw at them in the final five minutes of the match as they would see off a strong Argentina side for back to back wins for the first time in the FIH Hockey Pro League.
Vantage Black Sticks Men 5 (Sam Lane 5 min, Dylan Thomas 32 min, Jared Panchia 48 min, Cory Bennett 51 min, Dominic Newman 55 min)
Argentina 3 (Maica Casella 9 min, Jose Tolini 33, 49 min)