16 Apr 2015

Black Sticks triumphant

4:27 pm on 16 April 2015

The New Zealand men's hockey team have won the 2015 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in thrilling style with a 3-1 shoot-out victory over arch-rivals and world number one Australia.

Black Sticks on the charge led by captain Simon Child

Black Sticks on the charge led by captain Simon Child Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The final few minutes of the game were heart stopping with the Black Sticks taking a 2-1 lead with a penalty corner goal from Andy Hayward, only for Australia to tie the game again with 29 seconds remaining.

With the game locked up 2-2 at full-time, the Black Sticks goalkeeper Devon Manchester proved the hero in the shoot-out with three saves as New Zealand snared the title.

It was the first time in the tournament's history that the winner has been decided in a shoot-out, and also the first time the final has been an all-Oceania affair.

Drag flick maestro Andy Hayward took out man of the match for his two goals against the Kookaburras while Manchester won goalkeeper of the tournament.

Head coach Colin Batch was thrilled that his side were able to close out the game under the intense pressure of a shoot-out.

"We're all very excited right now and pleased with our performance not only in the final but throughout the tournament. The guys should be very proud of themselves," he said.

"We had some good moments in the first half and then continued to create opportunities in the second half, even after they levelled the score."

"I thought Devon had an outstanding game in goal, some of the saves he made gave the rest of the team a lot of confidence and we kept fighting right to the finish."

Australia put the hammer down from the opening whistle and won two early penalty corners, but goalkeeper Manchester and the New Zealand defence were up to the challenge.

The Black Sticks swung the momentum with some great attacking play of their own and grabbed the lead from their first penalty corner of the game, with Andy Hayward flicking low and into the back of the net.

The Kookaburras had the majority of possession throughout the first half but couldn't find a way past Manchester, who was forced to make some critical saves.

After the break New Zealand's exemplary defence continued as they kept Australia off the scoreboard for yet another quarter.

Australia delivered the equaliser with just over 10 minutes to play when Jamie Dwyer got a deflection on a hard crash ball into the circle.

The Black Sticks looked destined to secure the win with less than three minutes remaining when Hayward flicked home his second penalty corner goal of the game.

But Australia put pressure on at the other end and earned a penalty stroke, with captain Mark Knowles obliging to level the score 2-2 at full-time.

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