Hockey: Black Sticks denied chance to level scores

By Dana Johannsen

Anita Punt scored for New Zealand. Photo /  Christine Cornege.
Anita Punt scored for New Zealand. Photo / Christine Cornege.

The Black Sticks are still to get on the board at the World League finals after a controversial umpiring decision in their second match against Argentina denied the New Zealand side a chance to level the score on fulltime.

The New Zealand side suffered a 2-1 loss to the world number ones, producing a strong defensive effort to repel the waves of attack from the Argentinians.

While they can be happy with a much-improved outing following their poor first-up loss to China - a team ranked three spots lower - the Black Sticks would have been disappointed not to come away with any points from the match having been awarded two penalty corners in the final minute.

The second penalty corner attempt was ruled to have touched the body of Samantha Charlton, and Argentina awarded possession, but the Kiwis asked for a review from the television match official, with replays showing the ball did not touch Charlton.

But by that stage time was up on the clock and the umpire signalled the end of the game.

New Zealand opened the scoring in the 21st minute with Anita Punt drilling the ball into the top left-hand corner of the net.

But it did not take long for Argentina to equalise, with Delfina Merino scoring a brilliant half-volley back-hand goal after catching a deflection off Black Sticks goal keeper Sally Rutherford.

The Black Sticks would have still been happy to keep the score at 1-all at halftime, having defended five shots on goal from the hosts.

Argentina had two early scoring opportunities in the second half, which were both well-defended by Rutherford, but they didn't blow a third opportunity, with Merino adding her second goal.

The New Zealand side fought hard to get a goal back over the remainder of the second half, with their best opportunities coming from the late penalty corner attempts, before the clock proved their un-doing.

In the earlier pool B clash, Australia demolished China 5-1. The Kiwi team will meet Australia in their final pool match on Wednesday morning, which is a must-win from New Zealand if they are to avoid the top qualifier from pool A in the quarterfinals.

- NZ Herald

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