Black Sticks men overcome minnows Ireland

SIMON PLUMB
Last updated 21:13 15/06/2013

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The men's Black Sticks have beaten minnows Ireland 4-2 in hockey's World League.

The win was thanks to an improved second-half performance by New Zealand, in which they scored three goals.

New Zealand started slowly and in a poor first half, trailed to the world's 15th-ranked team after 18 minutes when a drag flick from a penalty corner hit Dean Couzins in the body, and Alan Sothern dispatched the penalty stroke.

The Black Sticks, ranked sixth in the world, got back on level terms thanks to an own goal in the 24th minute and managed to survive ten minutes without Arun Panchia after he was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle with a high stick.

Level at the break, Colin Batch will be encouraged by his side's much-improved second-half performance.

New Zealand hit the lead in the 48th minute when Phil Burrows injected a penalty corner for Nick Haig to slam home past David Harte.

But the lead lasted less than a minute when Michael Witt scored a stunning field goal on the turn.

Blair Hilton restored the Black Sticks' lead in the 55th minute with an easy finish from a pin-point Hugo Inglis cross and Andy Hayward sealed the points 10 minutes later with a low, drilled drag flick.

New Zealand are now in good shape and top the group after two games, with India and the Netherlands yet to play their second game of the semifinals.

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