The Vantage Black Sticks Men have gone back to back in Stratford with a gritty 2-0 win over Japan in the third match of the TSB Community Trust Series. The match went scoreless through three quarters until a Nic Woods drag-flick in the fourth quarter broke the match open. Japans Seren Tanaka was named the Stratford Business Man of the Match.
Vantage Black Sticks Men’s Coach Darren Smith commented “Tonight was a hard-fought win, both sides were defending well and as the game progressed the match was getting tighter. It was nice for the side to score a couple of penalty corners at the end of the match. We will look to finish the series well tomorrow against a tough Japanese side and will be looking to secure a really strong win”.
The Vantage Black Sticks looked like a renewed side in the second match of the series when they scored six goals to shock the visiting Japan side. The conditions for match-three were going to make it difficult for the side to continue playing the flowing hockey that was on display in match two.
The New Zealand side looked confident at the start of the match and were looking to press Japan into the pockets of the field. Japan managed to hold their nerve and worked themselves into the match, late in the first quarter Japan started to put themselves into the ascendency in the match, Richard Joyce pulled off some outstanding saves and was supported well by his defence who were clearing all the loose balls in the circle.
Heading into the second quarter the two sides were looking even and couldn’t be separated. Japan was dominant early in the second quarter and forced New Zealand to do a lot of defending, once that storm had been weathered the New Zealand team strung together some outstanding passing plays as they attempted to get their noses in front in the match. Despite several circle entries for the kiwis the Japan team were looking solid at the back and were denying whatever the New Zealand team threw at them. At the half time break, the two sides were still locked at 0-0.
In the third quarter the New Zealand side were looking more composed and started to put together some great attacking play, the Black Sticks went close to breaking the drought on several occasions but the Japanese defence managed to stifle every opportunity. After another tough quarter, the two sides still couldn’t be separated.
New Zealand managed to break the scoring drought at the start of the second when some great direct play resulted in the kiwis earning themselves a penalty corner. Nic Woods got his second goal of the series with a powerful drag-flick that the Japanese couldn’t keep out. New Zealand continued applying pressure on the Japanese side and earned themselves another penalty corner, this time it was Sam Lane who flicked the ball into the goal to seal the win for the New Zealand team.
The two sides will return for the final match of the series on Tuesday the 15th of October at 6:30 pm. Coverage will be on Sky Sport 9 and the Vantage Black Sticks Facebook Page.
Tickets are available from Dash Tickets or can be purchased at the gate
Vantage Black Sticks Men 2 (Nic Woods 49 min, Sam Lane 60 min)