The Vantage Black Sticks Women have been edged 2-1 by Japan in their opening match at the Pioneer Energy Women’s Tri Nations in Cromwell.
Both sides battled hard throughout the game with Akiko Kato and Samantha Harrison trading field goals to go into halftime locked up at 1-1.
Japan broke the deadlock just five minutes from fulltime when Shihori Oikawa scored from a penalty corner to snatch the result.
Auckland 21-year-old Lulu Tuilotolava made her international debut in the narrow loss.
Head coach for the series Sean Dancer said his side wasn’t clinical on either side of the ball.
“It’s a disappointing final result for us and I thought our basics let us down at times in both circles. It was a scrappy first half with both sides creating scoring opportunities but lacking finishing touches,” he said.
“We need to make sure we recover well and get ready for a tough game against Australia tomorrow which we know they will certainly be up for.”
The Vantage Black Sticks are back in action at 2:30pm tomorrow against trans-Tasman rivals Australia in a rematch of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games final.
The Pioneer Energy Women’s Tri Nations is proudly supported by presenting partner Pioneer Energy and the Central Otago District Council.
Odds for games at the Tri Nations are available at www.tab.co.nz along with a special promotion. Simply download the TAB app, set up a new account, deposit $20 using the promo code ‘HOCKEY’ and TAB will boost your account with a further $20 as well as give $20 to Hockey New Zealand.
VANTAGE BLACK STICKS 1: (Samantha Harrison)
JAPAN 2: (Akiko Kato, Shihori Oikawa)