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Black Sticks men lucky to come away with draw against Japan

The Black Sticks men have held on for a 2-2 draw with a determined Japanese side in their third pool match in Tokyo.

The draw at the Oi Hockey Stadium today kept the Kiwis quarterfinal hopes alive but was not the result the team would have been looking for against the 15th-ranked Japanese.

The Black Sticks will be ruing missed opportunities, with the Japanese having the better of the Kiwis late in the match and nearly coming away with the upset.

New Zealand had collected their first win on Sunday with a 4-3 victory over Spain after a disappointing 3-2 loss to India the day before.

Black Sticks captain Blair Tarrant was incredibly disappointed not to gain a victory today.

“We needed to get three points out of that match and we haven’t.”

“We had plenty of opportunities and we needed some scoreboard pressure. In games like that you need to get a couple ahead … so really disappointing.”

Tarrant said it was unfortunate to play the latter stages of the game with only 14 players after injuries to George Muir and Shea McAleese.

Today New Zealand were without vice-captain Hugo Inglis who has a hamstring injury. Dylan Thomas returned to the match day 16 after sitting out Sunday’s match.

The Japanese took an early lead in today’s match with Koji Yamasaki making a strong run and flicking the ball to the left of keeper Leon Hayward.

Nick Wilson equalised for the Black Sticks in the 11th minute as he jumped on the scraps from a Sam Lane penalty corner flick to push the ball past the keeper.

The Black Sticks weren’t able to add to their tally throughout the rest of the first half despite sustained periods of attack and three more penalty corners.

Minutes after the half-time break the Kiwis were awarded a penalty stroke after Nick Wilson went down in a tangle with the keeper. Unfortunately for the Kiwis, Kane Russell hit the post with the stroke and the score remained at 1-1.

It wasn’t long before the home side regained the lead with a brilliant run from Kenta Tanaka who charged from halfway through some poor Kiwi defence to fire the ball into the bottom right of the goal.

But Lane brought the Kiwis immediately back into it with a penalty corner drag flick that went in off a Japanese defender. At three-quarter time the teams were all tied up at 2-2.

Torrential rain was the dominant feature in the scoreless final quarter which Japan had the better of.

New Zealand 2 (Nick Wilson 11 min, Sam Lane 41 min)
Japan 2 (Koji Yamasaki 3 min, Kenta Tanaka 40 min) Halftime: 1-1.

New Zealand Men: Steve Edwards, George Muir (North Harbour); Leon Hayward (GK), Jared Panchia (Auckland); Nic Woods (Waikato); Sean Findlay, Shea McAleese, Dylan Thomas (Hawke’s Bay); Nick Wilson (Manawatu); Stephen Jenness, Dane Lett, Jacob Smith (Wellington); Sam Lane (Canterbury); Nick Ross, Kane Russell, Blair Tarrant – captain (Otago).

Next up the New Zealand men face world no.2 Australia in the early hours of Thursday morning (12.15am NZ time) followed by their final pool match against Argentina on Friday night.

For the Olympic hockey schedule and results, click here.

  • July 27th, 2021 in
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