Hockey: Black Sticks claim series against Malaysia

By David Leggat

Veteran goalkeeper Kyle Pontifex made some fine saves against Malaysia. Photo / photosport.nz
Veteran goalkeeper Kyle Pontifex made some fine saves against Malaysia. Photo / photosport.nz

A scoreless draw in Tauranga tonight was enough to give the men's Black Sticks a series victory over Malaysia.

World No 8 New Zealand finished with a 2-1 series win against a competitive Malaysian outfit, who fielded several new faces as they look to rebuild, having missed a spot in this year's Rio Olympics.

There was relatively little action in either attacking circle, although veteran goalkeeper Kyle Pontifex did pull off a couple of fine saves in the first half, before making way for Devon Manchester.

New Zealand did have a couple of good opportunities late on but squandered them. Indeed their leadup play into the circle left coach Colin Batch less than satisfied.

''We were bit disappointed not converting two very good chances, but our final entry into the attacking area was a bit lacking tonight. While we build up good opportunities we let ourselves down with that."

World No 13 Malaysia have impressed Batch, who suspects they will head home pretty pleased with their work in the series.

''They have certainly tested us, and answered a few questions for us, challenged us in a good way that we needed to be challenged, so that was pleasing," he said.

New Zealand will play Malaysia again in a few weeks at the Azlan Shah tournament, where the Black Sticks will be defending champions.

''They are a tough team to beat at home," Batch added.

New Zealand were without Capital defender Alex Shaw whose blow to the face in Wednesday night's 4-2 win was diagnosed as a fractured cheekbone. He had surgery today.

He is almost certainly out of action in the next four-match series, against Korea, starting in Auckland next Wednesday. Batch is awaiting a specialist report on the injury.

The players have the weekend off then reconvene early next week in Auckland.

Overall, Batch is happy with the start to a significant year of hockey.

''We trained for seven or eight weeks and it's a lot of time to play without actually playing a competitive match, so it's good to get under way.

''We had two good results, not such a good one in the second match (a 3-2 loss). All in all it's a great start for us."

Batch is planning to make a couple of changes to his squad for the series against world No 9 Korea.

''We do want to keep developing our team but we want to find out about our best group."

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 10 Dec 2016 09:26:38 Processing Time: 473ms