The Vantage Black Sticks Men have finished fourth at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup after being defeated 4-0 by India in the bronze medal match.

With a point to prove after missing out on the final, the Indians played an outstanding game of hockey and troubled the Kiwis on both sides of the ball.

The Black Sticks struggled to create chances in the attacking circle but did show flashes of class, although none were converted into goals.

The result sees New Zealand conclude the tournament with two wins, one draw and three losses.

Head coach Darren Smith said while the end result wasn’t what they were after, it had been a great few weeks of hockey for a young and evolving group.

“We couldn’t hold possession of the ball tonight and this made India even more of a threat. For us to be effective against any team denying time, space and applying pressure is critical,” he said.

“We also need to ensure that our basic skills are sharp and we take sound options. Overall it’s been a good two weeks, we’ve played nine games in 14 days with a team that has relished the opportunity to compete.

“Along the way there have been moments of quality and opportunities displayed of where we can improve. Now it’s time to narrow our focus onto the World League Semi Final.”

India controlled much of the play in the first half and poured the pressure on New Zealand through some dangerous phases of attacking play.

Rupinder Pal Singh made the Black Sticks pay in the 17th minute when put a powerful penalty corner drag flick into the goal.

It was almost an instant replay 10 minutes later with Rupinder scoring in the same spot from another drag flick to send India into halftime with a 2-0 advantage.

Strong defence had the Kiwis frustrated in the second half while India opened a 3-0 buffer early in the fourth quarter through a Sunil Sowmarpet field goal.

Talwinder Singh rubbed salt into the wounds with his side’s fourth goal of the match in the dying seconds before the fulltime hooter.

Earlier in the day hosts Malaysia secured fifth place following a 3-1 win over Japan, while Great Britain beat out Australia 4-3 to win the gold medal match.


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