Women's Black Sticks fall to South Korea again

SIMON PLUMB
Last updated 19:48 29/03/2014
Rhiannon Dennison
Photosport

FLICK TRICK: Black Sticks player Rhiannon Dennison flicks the ball high down-field during New Zealand's second straight 4-3 loss to South Korea in Auckland.

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Korea have condemned the women's Black Sticks to their second 4-3 defeat in two days.

Just as New Zealand thought they'd scrambled an equaliser for a 3-3 draw in Auckland tonight, the visitors rushed up the other end and hit the Black Sticks with a late goal to win 4-3.

The sucker-punch which caught New Zealand's defence off-guard highlighted the absence of co-captain and key player Kayla Sharland, who was rested.

Tonight's result follows another 4-3 defeat to the Koreans in Auckland yesterday, sealing the two-game series for the visitors.

Head coach Mark Hager said it was frustrating to concede so many goals again and that some of New Zealand's younger players lacked consistency.  

"At the moment we aren't treasuring each instance on the field and making the most of it," Hager said.

"At times today, we struggled to put sequences of passes together and we just need to improve the basics."

Another annoyance for Hager was an injury to pacey midfielder Anita Punt, who injured her knee and left the field just before half time, ruling her out of the upcoming games against China this week.

Today the Koreans were the first to score through Han Hye Lyoung before Canterbury's Sophie Cocks was able to get New Zealand back in the game before Olivia Merry put them into the lead.

In similar fashion to last night's defeat, it was tit-for-tat affair and then Hye Lyoung scored her second to tie it up just before half time.

The second half remained a close contest with the Black Sticks creating good opportunities, helped by a few trademark Gemma Flynn sprints through the midfield. Korea remained relentless in defence though and worked well to turn over possession and earn penalty corners - one of which Park Ki Ju converted in the 55th minute.

Merry gave the Kiwis real hope for a win when she found the back of the net in the 67th minute but despite the Black Sticks rallying to find the winning goal, a last minute penalty corner conversion from Cheon Seul gave the visitors the win.  

Tomorrow Hager will announce a team of 18 for the Hawke's Bay Festival from the 5-13 April. The team heads to Taupo where they play two warm-up games against China at Hickling Park on Monday and Tuesday at 6pm.

The Hawke's Bay Festival will see the Black Sticks take on Australia, Argentina, Korea, Japan and China.

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- Fairfax Media

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