The Vantage Black Sticks Men have recorded a 1-1 draw with Japan in their opening game at the International Festival of Hockey in Melbourne.

New Zealand dominated much of the second half but couldnt find a winning goal with Japan showing desperation in defence, particularly in the fourth quarter.

Japan opened the scoring in the 19th minute when Hirotaka Zendana sent a penalty corner flick low and hard into the side of the goal.

The Kiwis were quick to respond though with George Muir equalising the score three minutes later through a stunning forehand shot of the back foot from the top of the circle.

With the score level 1-1 at halftime, the Black Sticks controlled possession in the second half and created plenty of scoring chances but werent able to make them count.

Head coach Darren Smith said it was a slow start from both sides in their first game of the tournament but a pleasing second half.

"It was a bit of a feeling out process for us in the first half but George scored a great goal and we did get into our work in the latter stages of the game," he said.

"We showed some real quality in the fourth quarter playing up tempo hockey, showing efficiency on the ball and generating opportunities. We could have snatched the result but just couldnt get the finishing touches."

The Vantage Black Sticks are back in action against hosts Australia at 8:00pm tomorrow night (NZ time), with live coverage on SKY Sport.

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VANTAGE BLACK STICKS: 1 (George Muir)

JAPAN: 1 (Hirotaka Zendana)

Halftime: 1-1


- This story has been automatically published using a media release from Hockey NZ