8 Jun 2015

Black Sticks draw with Dutch

8:15 am on 8 June 2015

The New Zealand men's hockey team remains unbeaten at the World League tournament in Buenos Aires after scoring a 1-all draw with The Netherlands.

New Zealand hockey player Nick Haig.

New Zealand hockey player Nick Haig. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The world number two Dutch led at half time, but the Black Sticks dominated the second half, with Nick Haig scoring in the last minute from a penalty corner, while they had a chance to win it in the last few seconds, but missed from another penalty corner.

New Zealand beat Egypt and Japan in their opening games.

In the first quarter, the Dutch held the majority of possession and goalkeeper Devon Manchester made some great saves to keep the Black Sticks in the game.

In the 20th minute, the tournament's top ranked side broke the deadlock when Jeroen Hertzberger received a superb pass and with space in the circle, he hit it on the angle passed a diving Manchester and into the bottom corner of the goal.

After the half time break, the Black Sticks stepped up the intensity, pressing high and putting the Dutch defence under real pressure. Throughout the third quarter the Black Sticks had more circle penetrations than the Dutch but just couldn't find the connections in the circle to knock it home.

New Zealand continued their momentum in the final quarter, they had two thirds of possession and persistently mounted attack after attack to try to find the equaliser.

As the clock counted down, New Zealand desperately tried to find an opening and it came with 50 seconds remaining when they were awarded a penalty corner and under pressure, Haig flicked it to the back of the net.

With just seconds left to play, the Black Sticks called for a video referral which was upheld and they were awarded a second penalty corner. This was their opportunity to win the game and take another three points, but this time an Andy Hayward drag flick was well saved and the game ended in a draw.

New Zealand and the Dutch sit at the top of their pool on seven points, followed by South Korea on six points, Japan on three points and Egypt on nil.

The Black Sticks will face Korea in their final pool game on Wednesday before progressing to a must win quarter-final game on Friday.

The top three finishers from the tournament automatically qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics, with the top four progressing to the World League Final in India in November.

Haig believes there is room for improvement ahead of their next game against Korea.

He says it was definitely their best performance so far, better than their Egypt and Japan game, we don't fear the Dutch, we were hoping we could have the win but they're happy with the draw.