Black Sticks men fall one win short of final
The New Zealand men's hockey team have fallen two goals and a win short of the final at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia.
Needing to defeat Australia in their final round-robin match, the Black Sticks fell 3-2, leaving Australia to play hosts Malaysia tomorrow for the title at the 22nd edition of the tournament.
New Zealand will now play Korea for third place.
"It was disappointing not to come away with a win. We hung in there in the second half, but conceding three goals put us on the back foot and although we rallied together it was always going to be difficult to come back," said head coach Colin Batch.
"I think our set piece play has been very good, we just need more penalty corners, tonight we scored one from one. We successfully defended seven Australian penalty corners - we had done our homework well and that paid off."
Australia nearly went ahead from their third penalty corner in the 15th minute, but the Kiwi keeper Hamish McGregor was in his element as he stood his ground and cleared the ball quickly.
Two more penalty corners were squandered by Australia before New Zealand struck the opening goal.
Isaac Staples weaved down the left flank and his cross found Jacob Smith, who tapped it to give the Black Sticks the lead in the 27th minute.
New Zealand came close twice to increasing their lead but Australia held on until halftime.
Jacob Whetton put Australia on level terms in the 37th minute and a minute later was on target to score his second.
Matt Ghodes touched on an attempt by Daniel Mirecki in the 42nd minute to increase Australia's advantage to 3-1 just before heavy rain started.
The match officials were forced to suspend play in the 50th minute due to the adverse weather conditions.
New Zealand reduced the deficit via Cory Bennett in the 56th minute but could not fight back for a place in the final.
The Black Sticks will play either Korea or India for the bronze medal. India needs to beat Malaysia to secure fourth.
Australia 3 (Jacob Whetton 2, Matt Ghodes) New Zealand 2 (Jacob Smith, Cory Bennett). HT: 0-1.