Hockey: Black Sticks back to winning ways

By David Leggat

Hugo Inglis scored a hat-trick to help New Zealand beat Malaysia. Photo / Getty
Hugo Inglis scored a hat-trick to help New Zealand beat Malaysia. Photo / Getty

A Hugo Inglis hat trick got the Black Sticks back to winning ways in the third game of their series against Malaysia in Tauranga tonight.

But there's no doubt 13th ranked Malaysia are giving New Zealand, ranked five places higher, some real cheek in this four-game rubber, which ends at the same venue tomorrow.

The Malaysians bounced back from losing game one with a 3-2 win to square the series and things were getting sticky for the Black Sticks tonight until Southern striker Inglis stepped up to lead his side to a 4-2 victory.

New Zealand had led early through North Harbour's James Coughlan, but Malaysia got level through Rashid Baharom before halftime.

The visitors then went ahead through a penalty stroke from Fitri Saari. However Inglis then cleared his throat with an important period of work.

He got New Zealand's second goal, coming in from the right to deflect a drive from a penalty corner into the net before adding a penalty stroke, after a foul on Nick Wilson, five minutes from the end.

Then to cap the night off, he broke clear, after good setup work from captain Simon Child and Wilson and flicked the ball past Malaysia's goalkeeper for the fourth goal.

New Zealand were impressive in the first and final quarters, more ordinary for the half hour in between.

''That was definitely pretty frustrating," Inglis said. ''We struggled to break them down but scored a couple at the end to make it look pretty. But there's definitely a lot to work on."

The teams know each other well. New Zealand are regular visitors to Malaysia. Indeed they'll be over there in a few weeks defending the Azlan Shah title they won last year.

There are no surprises in what they bring to the game and they are challenging the Black Sticks at the start of their Olympic preparations for Rio.

''It's really good preparation, which is what we need," Inglis said. ''We didn't execute as well as we would have liked, but it's important to come out on right end of scoresheet because things aren't always going to go your way."

Of his own contribution, he acknowledged that ''when you score three it's hard to feel bad, but I'd definitely like to get a bit more ball and get a bit more involved.

''We didn't control the game as much as we would have liked."

One injury concern is over Capital defender Alex Shaw, who took a nasty blow to an eye socket early on and went to hospital for a checkup.

- NZ Herald

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