New Zealand have pulled off their first win at the Azlan Shah men’s hockey tournament in Malaysia tonight.
Having drawn 1-1 with Australia, then lost 3-0 to India, New Zealand, ranked No 8 in the world, needed a win and got it with a 3-2 victory over Japan in Ipoh, surviving a strong late surge by the Japanese.
New Zealand’s goals came from Kane Russell, who scored from a firm penalty corner drive, and then a penalty stroke after midfielder Mac Wilcox was bundled over in the attacking circle.
Sam Lane increased New Zealand’s lead to 3-1 two minutes later, early in the third quarter.
He capitalised on both a Japanese error and a good cross from the right by Jonty Keaney, to calmly slide the ball into the net.
Both world No 16 Japan’s goals came from impressive penalty corner shots from Shota Yamada.
Japan pleas for a penalty corner late on were denied after the ball struck Russell too high on a leg and a referral by an umpire after a Japanese shot struck a New Zealand player was ruled in the Black Sticks’ favour as it was travelling wide of the goal.
The win lifts New Zealand to fourth spot on the table. Australia’s 3-1 win over India kept them on top.
New Zealand will play hosts Malaysia late on Wednesday night.
By David Leggat Photo - PhotoSport