Both Women’s and Men’s Vantage Black Sticks teams were in action tonight, the women taking on world #3 Argentina, as they prepare for the Vitality Women’s World Cup starting in 7 days time, while the men faced Germany in a one-off test in Japan as they look forward to a tour of India next week in preparation for their World Cup in November.
Argentina have often been a challenging team for the Black Sticks Women in recent years, with tours by both teams to each others countries in 2017 and 2018 meaning there is a fair amount of familiarity when the sides play head-to-head.
It was in Munich where the South American side went up 1-0 after a Martina Cavallero penalty corner in only the 3rd minute. The previous two matches of this pre-World Cup tour had seen the New Zealand Women start well and score early.
Always a contrast in styles when these two teams play, the match was quick and entertaining for fans as the match remained at 1-0 until half time.
It took the Black Sticks 9 minutes into the second half to break the Argentinians down with a Madi Doar deflected goal from an Olivia Merry slap shot penalty corner to get New Zealand on the board.
Late in the 3rd quarter Anita McLaren was green carded by the referee, only to come back on a minute into the fourth and score her 104th goal in the black singlet, taking the Black Sticks into the lead.
That lead was short lived with Argentina striking back a mere 2 minutes later with a Delfina Merino field goal to tie the match up at 2 a-piece.
It was a close finish in Munich when Argentina pulled off their goalkeeper with six minutes to play. The Black Sticks probably should have scored when the kicking back was struck on the leg in the circle, conceding a somewhat controversial penalty corner as the ball hit the back side of her stick.
The New Zealand team failed to capitalise and were stung by a late goal from Argentina’s Noel Barrionuevo through a penalty stroke, which sealed them with a 3-2 victory.
“A mixed team performance against the number 3 in the world. We have to better handle their fast paced game which troubled our defence at times today”, said Sean Dancer, Assistant Coach.
“While Argentina dominated good portions of the game with their pace and skill, we did have periods of dominance ourselves, especially the third quarter, so it was a close match.
“It was the hottest day we’ve played in so far, so that was quite challenging for both teams as well. It’s been an excellent tournament. We couldn’t have asked for better to prepare us for the World Cup”.
The Vantage Black Sticks Women will have a day off tomorrow to recover, then head to London on Monday (UK time) to play their opening match of the Vitality Women’s World Cup 2018 against Belgium on July 22. New Zealand games will be live on SKY TV. Final TV schedule and times to be confirmed.
VANTAGE BLACK STICKS: 2 (Maddison Doar 39′, Anita McLaren 46′
ARGENTINA: 3 (Martina Cavallero 3′, Delfina Merino 48′, Noel Barrionuevo 58′)
Half Time: ARG 1-0
There’s no doubt this tour has been a challenging one for this Vantage Black Sticks Men’s team who were looking to blood some new players and gain insights as preparation for the Tokyo Olympics and the Odisha Men’s World Cup in India on the near horizon in November.
New Zealand faced Germany for the first time since the 2016 Rio Olympics looking to end the Japan leg of the tour well, but knowing the world #5 ranked Germans would be a difficult undertaking. And so it was to be.
The efficient Germans started strongly with 2 goals in the first quarter, to Marco Miltkau in the 9th minute and Tom Grambusch in the 15th minute, to put the Kiwis on the back foot despite some good play from the Black Sticks, who were unable to turn pressure into goals.
New Zealand got one back straight after the break with a Stephen Jenness field goal in the 16th minute, however the second quarter saw the Germans apply the pressure forcing a barrage of corners. The slick European side scored a further 2 goals, another to Grambusch and a Florian Fuchs field goal to make it 4-1, before PC king Kane Russell pegged one back for the Black Sticks.
With the score 4-2 to Germany at half time, the Kiwi side were still in the hunt but knew they were in for a battle to get back into the match and it proved to be with a blistering 3rd quarter from the Germans adding another three goals without reply in a devastating four minute onslaught.
Facing a 5 goal deficit with a quarter to go, the Vantage Black Sticks were looking down the barrel of another defeat on this tour. To their credit, the team dug deep in the final 15 minutes and rallied with two goals, a Dominic Newman field goal (53′) and another from Stephen Jenness (60′) to finish the match with a 7-4 loss.
“It’s been a testing time for us, five games in eight days, and really hot weather, but we have to take it on the chin, take on the challenge, choose to be optimistic and be a bit better next time”, said Bryce Collins, Assistant Coach.
“We need to review the game and make the most of the time to refocus and transition well as we head to Bangalore to play India who will be a different kind of challenge, fresh off their recent results at the Champions Trophy”.
VANTAGE BLACK STICKS: 4 (Stephen Jenness 16′ and 60′, Kane Russell 28′, Dominic Newman 53′ )
GERMANY : 7 (Marco Miltkau 9′, Tom Grambusch 15′ and 19′, Florian Fuchs 24′ and 41′, Dieter Linnekogel 44′, Niklas Wellen 45′
Half Time: GER 4-2