Hockey: Strong defensive effort helps Kiwis shut out Malaysia

Photo / Photosport
Photo / Photosport

A stoic defensive effort has helped the Vantage Black Sticks Men defeat hosts Malaysia 1-0 at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

Played in front of a packed stadium of vocal home fans, New Zealand put together a complete team performance to secure a clean sheet.

Defender Kane Russell proved the man of the moment in the 25th minute when he sent a penalty corner drag flick screaming into the right hand corner for what would be the only goal of the match.

The Kiwis converted their only penalty corner of the game while in stark contrast Malaysia squandered all seven of their set piece chances in the face of unrelenting defence.

The result sees the Black Sticks consolidate fourth spot on the table with seven points behind Australia (10 points), Great Britain and India (also on seven points) based on goal difference.

It also guarantees the Black Sticks at least a place in the bronze medal match while they still have a chance to make the final if results go their way on the last day of round robin.

Head coach Darren Smith said it was good to secure the second win in a row at the tournament thanks to a solid performance.

"We have guaranteed ourselves a chance for a bronze medal but will be putting everything on the line in our next game against Great Britain to give a good run at making the final," he said.

"I thought we played well in defence today - we were fluid and tackled very effectively while our penalty corner defence kept them off the score sheet.

"We will rest our bodies as much as possible now and prepare for a tough match up against Great Britain who are playing really well at the tournament."

The Vantage Black Sticks play Great Britain in their final round robin match at 8:00pm Friday night (NZT), with live coverage on SKY Sport 4.

In today's other matches India defeated Japan 4-3 in a high scoring contest while Australia snuck past Great Britain 2-1.

- NZ Herald

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