Black Sticks thumped by the Netherlands 5-1

SIMON PLUMB IN LONDON
Last updated 23:19 03/08/2012
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HEAVY LOSS: The Netherlands celebrate a goal against the Black Sticks men.

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A hammer-blow has been dealt to the men's Black Sticks' Olympic chances, going down 5-1 the Netherlands.

Needing to win at least two of their final three pool games to have any chance of making the knockout phase, the Dutch defeat means victory against world number two Germany on Wednesday is compulsory.

It could even be over before that, should New Zealand fail to beat Belgium on Sunday.

Things looked good early on against the Dutch when Simon Child slotted home a simple reverse stick shot into an unguarded net in the fifth minute.

But a skilful Dutch attack, and a slice of bad luck, undid Shane McLeod's side.

Goals from Roderick Weusthof, Mink van der Weerden and Billy Bakker gave Holland full control at halftime, 3-1 up.

There was to be no recovery and the Kiwis now find themselves on thin ice.

After conceding in the first minute during their 3-1 win over India, the Black Sticks, knowing their Olympic tournament was on the line, came out fighting against the world's third-ranked team.

Pressing the Dutch tenaciously in defence for the first five minutes, New Zealand launched a counter attack and were able to catch the men in orange napping.

Nick Wilson beat his man down the left flank and when goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann was drawn, Wilson pulled back for Child to dispatch simply.

Two minutes later Holland thought they'd equalised when Teun de Nooijer's lofted strike was brilliantly steered into the roof of the net by Sander de Wijn.

But the Kiwis called for a video referral and it clearly showed de Wijn's stick was too high and the goal was wiped.

Still, the leveller wasn't far away, though the Black Sticks can count themselves unlucky.

New Zealand goalkeeper Kyle Pontifex, who was impressive all game, produced a good reaction save from a Weusthof drag flick, but when the rebound fell to de Wijn, his goal-bound shot hit the thigh of a helpless Blair Hopping who was trying to turn out of the way.

A penalty flick was awarded and Weusthof made no mistake.

Soon after, New Zealand's lead was completely flipped when the Dutch were awarded another spot flick.

Ryan Archibald's foot stopped the ball near the goal line and this time it was van der Weerden's turn to rifle home.

Bakker's field goal, a tap in with captain Dean Couzins desperately trying to intercept, was a dagger just 30 minutes into the match.

Committing men forward, the Black Sticks tried to reduce the deficit and had a couple of half chances thwarted by Stockmann.

Bakker's second of the match in the 45th minute and a stunning reverse stick shot from Robbert Kemperman three minutes from the hooter confirmed the mountain the Black Sticks now have to climb.

New Zealand's next game is against Belgium on Sunday, 7.30pm.

Meanwhile, the campaign of two more Kiwi Olympians came to an end overnight.

Weightlifter Richie Patterson, who garnered considerable publicity during the pre-Games selection period, failed to make it past the unseeded B-category lifting competition.

Patterson hoisted a total of 186kg, well short of his goal to become New Zealand’s lightest man to clean and jerk 200kg.

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Last month Patterson needed an injured team-mate to help him qualify for the Games.

That story attracted widespread interest in his sport and performance here in London.

He said simply at the conclusion of his performance this morning: "From today I am the Olympic tourist."

Louisa Hill can also start sightseeing after she finished 48th out of a field of 50 in the individual dressage competition.

- Fairfax Media

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