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2019 HOCKEY PRO LEAGUE-Black Sticks-Netherlands

  27 January, 2019                            Photo: Hockey NZ / Simon Watts   
Vantage Black Sticks Men go down in tight Battle with the Netherlands    The Vantage Black Sticks have gone down 4-3 to a Netherlands side in a highly entertaining contest. After finding themselves behind by 3-0 after one quarter the Black Sticks fought their way back into the contest and were 3-3 at half time. Unfortunately the Netherlands broke the deadlock and held on to secure the victory.    The Vantage Black Sticks started the match incredibly strongly constructing a few opportunities in the opening few minutes. The Netherlands looked to counter this pressure being applied by holding onto possession and looking to frustrate the New Zealander’s. The Netherlands earned the first penalty corner of the match off a quickly taken free hit in the attacking 25. Shea McAleese pulled off an amazing goal line save when the Netherlands looked to tap home the penalty corner.  The Netherlands got the opening goal of the game when a lapse in defence gave the Netherlands side a free deflection in the Vantage Black Sticks circle. The Netherlands then increased their lead when a powerful reverse shot by Jonas De Geus went past Vantage Black Sticks goalkeeper George Enersen. The Netherlands further extended their lead late in the first quarter when a powerful drag flick from Jip Janssen went into the back of the net. At the end of the first quarter the Vantage Black Sticks were down 3-0 against a polished looking Netherlands side.    Hugo Inglis got the Vantage Black Sticks onto the score board at the start of the second quarter then he eliminated a number of Netherlands defenders and then flicked it past the goalkeeper to get the Black Sticks back into the contest. The New Zealand side then continued to push hard looking for their second goal however the Netherlands goalkeeper was up to the challenge. The Netherlands midway through the second quarter had another penalty corner however George Enersen was up to the challenge and made a great glove save. Hugo Inglis then received a fantastic cross from Kane Russell and flicked his second goal of the game past the Netherlands goalkeeper to close the gap to 3-2. With 30 seconds to go in the quarter Nick Ross drove confidently into the circle and earned the Vantage Black Sticks their first penalty corner of the match. Kane Russell drag flicked home the goal to tie the game at 3-3 and set up what would be an exciting second half.    After a tight opening to the second half the Netherlands earned the first penalty corner of the second half when a long ball into the circle caught Captain Blair Tarrant’s foot. The Vantage Black Sticks defended resolutely and kept the ball out and the score remained tied 3-3. After some more back and forth play where both sides had some more goal scoring chances the Netherlands earned another penalty corner. George Enersen came up with another great save however the Netherlands took the proceeding long corner quickly and caught the Black Sticks napping when he powered home a reverse shot to put the Netherlands up 4-3.    The Vantage Black Sticks started the fourth quarter strongly and were pushing hard looking for the equaliser. With 8 minutes to go both teams were reduced to 10 players for the remainder of the contest when they got caught up in some pushing. Dylan Thomas drove strongly into the circle and earned a penalty. The resulting penalty corner was broken down when the Vantage Black Sticks couldn’t stop the ball cleanly outside the circle. With two minutes to go the Black Sticks pulled their goalkeeper in search of an equaliser.    Netherlands 4 (Thierry Brinkman 9’ 44’, Jonas De Geus 12’, Jip Janssen 14’)   Vantage Black Sticks 3 (Hugo Inglis 16’ 28’, Kane Russell 30’)   Release Ends   What is the FIH Pro League? The FIH Pro League – Presented by Sentinel Homes will see home and away games between the world’s top 9 Men’s and Women’s hockey nations played between January and June, starting in 2019, culminating in a winner takes all Grand Final. More details at                                   

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