A second half fightback and a last minute goal by Kane Russell has seen the men's Junior Black Sticks salvage a 3-3 draw against Pakistan in their first match of the Sultan of Johor Cup at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium in Johor Baru, Malaysia.
Pakistan had a three-goal advantage after 30 minutes, thanks to a successful penalty corner and two field goals, but the New Zealand under-21 team fought back to claim a point.
The first goal for the Kiwis came in the 50th minute when Brennan Alexander-Parker made his way into the circle and passed to Jared Panchia who deflected it in. Benedict van Woerkom then hit a cracking reverse stick hit to reduce the deficit to just one goal six minutes later before a trademark drag flick from Southern player Kane Russell levelled the scores.
''We struggled in the first half with poor passing and trapping skills and Pakistan really dominated. But it was much improved in the second half, we moved the ball quickly through the midfield and managed to stretch Pakistan from side to side,'' coach Grant Edwards said.
"However, we will be looking for better execution of core skills in our game tomorrow, the connection between defence and midfield will need to improve."
Edwards said that Panchia, Zac Woods and George Muir were the standout players.
Their next match is against Malaysia tomorrow morning. They will also play Germany, India and Australia.