New Zealand's Six Nations men's hockey campaign got off to a wobbly start against hosts Spain in Valencia today.
Spain, ranked three places New Zealand at No 11, won the match 2-0, both goals coming in the second half, one from a firmly struck penalty corner, the other a deft backhand shot from close range which squeezed between a defender and the near post.
New Zealand didn't lack for scoring chances and coach Colin Batch admitted a feeling of being ''a bit cheated" by the final scoreline, which he didn't think reflected the flow of the game.The two Spanish goals came at the start of the third and fourth quarters.
''We had the better of the first half," Batch said.
''We were a little slow to start the second half but dominated the rest of the third and fourth quarters, so we feel a little bit cheated. It looks maybe a clear victory. The stats would indicate we were well on top.
''We are doing a lot of things well but still need be more desperate in defence and need to convert some of our opportunities, that's for sure."
Batch said the statistics were showing New Zealand are creating plenty of opportunities, having more shots on goal and penalty corner chances. That is a positive aspect of the Black Sticks' work at present.
New Zealand are without regular striker Hugo Inglis, who flew home after New Zealand's three-game series against the Netherlands last week, with a small tear in a calf.
''His medical support and treatment back there would be the best it can be. We think he'll be right and back to full training almost by the time we get home," Batch said.
New Zealand next face world No 3 Germany early tomorrow.
In today's other two first-day matches, Argentina beat Ireland 1-0 while the Germans beat India 4-0.