Black Sticks women and men crash to losses

Last updated 08:40 16/07/2012
Olympic hockey venue
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TURF OF DREAMS: London's Olympic hockey venue, where the Black Sticks men and women will hope to improve their pre-Games form.

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It comes as no surprise that Mark Hager fired a few well directed bullets today.

The Black Sticks women's hockey coach is one of the straightest shooters in New Zealand sport and he was far from happy after watching his team fall to a 5-1 loss to world No 3 Germany just 12 days out from the Olympics.

Hager was frustrated at how his team was almost intimidated by the Germans as the Black Sticks continued what has been a poor run of results in 2012, compared with 2011.

Six months ago they were seen as Olympic medal contenders, now the world's sixth-ranked team has plenty to do and not a lot of time to do it if they're going to compete with the big guns in London.

The Black Sticks had scored wins over lesser-ranked Belgium and South Africa at the Four Nations tournament in Germany, but the hosts were always going to provide the litmus test, and the Kiwis failed.

"It was a very disappointing performance,'' said Hager, who led a thorough post-match debrief.

''We turned the ball over too much and this made our job of defending very difficult.''

New Zealand conceded two goals in the first half, and the Germans stretched their lead to 3-0 soon after the break.

A goalmouth scramble saw Charlotte Harrison tap the ball to the back of the net, but Germany scored twice more and took the game out of reach.

The women now go to the Olympic village where they will spend two days training before a friendly against France later this week.

Meanwhile, the Black Sticks men will also head to London on a losing note after a 3-2 defeat to world No 3 the Netherlands in Utrecht.

It follows a 3-0 loss to the same team at the weekend, but coach Shane McLeod believed they were not far off the team ranked four places above them.

''There were elements of the game that were pleasing, but our turnover rate was high. Overall, it was a much better performance than our first game,'' he said.

New Zealand scored in the third minute from the first penalty corner of the game, thanks to a Richard Petherick drag flick, but the Dutch scored two field goals before halftime, then went two goals up after the break following a penalty corner.

The Black Sticks put some pressure on in the last 15 minutes and pulled one back through Blair Hilton.

The men's team will depart for the Olympic village in a couple of days where they will train on the Olympic turf and play practice matches against Great Britain and Spain.

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