The Vantage Black Sticks Men have gone down 7-1 to Japan in an error-ridden performance in their second game at Ibuki Stadium on the tour of Shiga and Gifu, Japan.
It was a match to forget for the Black Sticks after a spirited comeback for a 3-3 draw the previous night.
Two debutantes took to the field in the opening match with, Dylan Thomas and Kieran O’Connor. Match two saw another debutante start in goal with Dominic Dixon putting on the Black Sticks shirt for the first time.
Japan scored their first after only four minutes, through a penalty corner, followed by three in the second. A solitary Stephen Jenness field goal in the 21st minute for the Black Sticks, left the Kiwis trailing 4-1 at half time.
There was no second half revival this time for the New Zealanders, with Japan piling on the pressure with two further goals in the 3rd quarter and a final goal in the fourth to run out worthy winners on the day.
Turnovers in the midfield and the speed of the Japanese counter attack caught the Black Sticks out numerous times, with the home side clinical in front of goal. That and a sub-par performance in terms of general skill level left head coach Darren Smith ruing the result.
“That was a tough day at the office. Our level of performance was way down on our usual standards and we could not have played more into Japan’s hands”, said Smith.
“We gave the ball up easily in the midfield allowing Japan to break at speed, causing our deep defence problems, and we weren’t able to contain them. There will need to be a much better reaction in the third game in Gifu.”
The Vantage Black Sticks now move to Gifu and will play Japan again on Wednesday night, at 10pm NZ time.
VANTAGE BLACK STICKS: 1 (Stephen Jenness 21′)
JAPAN: 7 (Shota Yamada 4′ and 37′, Koji Yamasaki 17′ and 31′, Kenji Kitazato 24′, Kenta Tanaka 27′, Hirotaka Waikuri 41′, Suguru Hoshi 50′)
Half Time: 4:1