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Russell double lifts Black Sticks over Japan

Russell double lifts Black Sticks over Japan

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<p>A Kane Russell double has helped the Vantage Black Sticks Men secure a 3-2 win over Japan</p>
<p class=""><em>Photo: Megat Firdaus</em><br>
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A Kane Russell double has helped the Vantage Black Sticks Men secure a 3-2 win over Japan at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia.<br>
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After surrendering an early goal, New Zealand powered back with three unanswered strikes either side of halftime to take control of the match.<br>
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Japan mounted relentless pressure in the fourth quarter and despite allowing another goal, the Black Sticks defence held firm to ensure their first win so far at the tournament.<br>
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Head coach Darren Smith said it was pleasing to come away with three crucial points from the result.<br>
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“I thought we played well for most of the game, especially in the second half when we were under immense pressure our defence really stood up,” he said.<br>
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“We tackled well and protected the centre of the field which saw us get the upper hand. To see such a young group of players putting in a performance like that is excellent.<br>
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“We’ll go away now and focus on putting in another big effort against Malaysia who we know are a tough team, and they will be playing in front of a packed and noisy home crowd so we need to be on our game.”<br>
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Japan gained the early upper hand creating several penalty corner opportunities, with Shota Yamada converting through a drag flick in the ninth minute.<br>
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The Kiwis lifted following the goal and began to generate some genuine chances through quick hands and feet in the circle.<br>
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New Zealand drew level in the 18<sup>th</sup> minute after defender Kane Russell ripped a hard flick low and inside the left post from a penalty corner.<br>
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The Black Sticks grabbed their first lead of the game when a stroke was awarded for a push in the back on Mac Wilcox, Russell making no mistake of the flick.<br>
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The score then pushed out to 3-1 in favour of the Black Sticks in the 35<sup>th</sup> minute thanks to a skilful finish from Sam Lane who received a pass in the circle and flicked past the keeper on his reverse stick.<br>
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Japan pulled a goal back 10 minutes from fulltime with Yamada’s second drag flick of the match, but weren’t able to find an equaliser in the face on strong Kiwi defence.<br>
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The Vantage Black Sticks go up against hosts Malaysia in their next match at 12:30am Thursday morning (NZT), with live coverage on SKY Sport 4.<br>
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<a href="http://hockeynz.co.nz/Events/Full-Events-Listing/2017-sultan-azlan-shah-cup">CLICK HERE for more on the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup</a><br>
<strong><br>
VANTAGE BLACK STICKS 3: </strong>(Kane Russell 2, Sam Lane)<br>
<strong>JAPAN 2:</strong> (Shota Yamada 2)<br>
<strong>Halftime:</strong> 1-1<br>
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2017-05-02T12:17:00+10:0010150true

  • May 3rd, 2017 in
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