Black Sticks men fall short against Germany

SIMON PLUMB
Last updated 18:18 01/12/2012
Simon Child and Moritz Polk
Getty Images
HUSTLE AND BUSTLE: New Zealand's Simon Child bumps Germany's Moritz Polk to the ground during their opening match at the Champions Trophy tournament.

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The Black Sticks men have a chance to atone tomorrow for losing their opening game of the Champions Trophy in Melbourne, going down 3-2 to Olympic champions Germany.

In Colin Batch's first competitive game in charge, the Black Sticks fell behind within seconds today, and at half time were 3-0 down to the 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medallists.

But in a second-half fight back New Zealand twice found the net and not only created enough chances to draw, but to win the game - taking 16 shots compared to Germany's 10, and penetrating the attacking circle 35 times, compared to 25 by the Germans.

However, the Black Sticks were unable to turn statistics into results.

The game got off to a terrible start when Tobias Matania dispatched a second minute penalty corner. Inside half an hour an already difficult task was ramped into climbing a mountain with Jan Christopher Ruehr and Oliver Korn finding the New Zealand net in the 21st and 26th minute.

At the halftime hooter, the Black Sticks were perhaps a little unlucky to be three down and continued to create decent chances after the restart.

The breakthrough took a while to land however.

With only 15 minutes left on the clock Matt L'Hullier ignited the New Zealand comeback, with a well-executed penalty corner fired low and left.

Four minutes later New Zealand had another penalty corner and though they were unable to capitalise, did find a way back into the game soon after.

With five minutes left on the clock a deft touch from Nick Wilson found it's way into the net for the 50th goal of his international career and New Zealand's second of the match.

The Kiwis continued to push for leveller but were unable to breakdown the German defence a third time.

The Black Sticks return to face India at 8.30pm tomorrow (NZ time), in a game which should see New Zealand take three points.

Victory against the Indians would tee-up a crucial showdown against England on Tuesday.

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- Fairfax Media

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