Hockey: Jenness fires for New Zealand

Stephen Jenness and Arun Panchia of New Zealand celebrate a goal against India. Photo / Getty Images
Stephen Jenness and Arun Panchia of New Zealand celebrate a goal against India. Photo / Getty Images

A hat-trick from Wellington striker Stephen Jenness inspired the Black Sticks men to a convincing 6-3 victory against India in their opening game of the innovative Super Nine Series in Perth last night.

Blair Hilton, Ben Collier and Joel Baker added further goals as the team got their campaign off to a great start.

There were also good performances from goalkeeper Stephen Graham, defender Alex Shaw and midfielder Arun Panchia.

Stephen Jenness opened the scoring in the sixth minute when he latched onto captain Shea McAleese's through pass to drill home a reverse stick shot high into the net.

A minute later, Wellington team-mate Blair Hilton grabbed the second when he neatly deflected Alex Shaw's excellent cross low into the corner of the goal and Central's Ben Collier notched the third when he smashed home McAleese's pass at a corner in the eleventh minute.

India pulled a goal back in the 12th minute through Danish Mujtaba before Wellington's Joel Baker celebrated the fourth goal just before half-time, sweeping home Arun Panchia's pass high into the roof of the net.

India fought back hard at the start of the second half and reduced the deficit twice through Sardar Singh and Ravi Lal to make it 4-3 to New Zealand before Jenness added his second and New Zealand's fifth with a clever reverse stick flick in a crowded circle in the 25th minute.

New Zealand were denied a sixth when captain McAleese converted a penalty only to have the umpire disallow the goal before Jenness completed the first ever Super Nine hat-trick, when he was released by Andy Hayward's accurate pass to fire home at the second attempt.

This new competition, a fast-paced, action-packed nine-a-side variation of the traditional game, which could be seen almost as hockey's version of 20/20 cricket, played to packed audiences in Perth.

In the other game played last night, Australia edged Pakistan 3-2. The Black Sticks play World and Commonwealth champions Australia at 7.30pm (Perth time) today with Pakistan meeting India in the second match.

- APNZ

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