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U21-Hockey NZ News

Japan come from behind to stun New Zealand in Johor

Japan has used a three-goal third quarter to come from behind too and defeat the New Zealand U21 side 4-2 in their second to last pool match at the Sultan of Johor Cup. New Zealand started the match strongly and constructed several opportunities, however, it was Japan who were clinical from the penalty corner where they scored three of their goals.

New Zealand were looking to back up their win against Malaysia from the previous evening with another great performance against a Japanese side who were riding high after beating India in their previous encounter.

New started the match positively when in the first minute of the match they earned a penalty corner after Japan didn’t retreat five. Benji Edwards was looking to continue his scoring streak having scored three goals in his previous match. Japan’s first runner ran a good line to force Edwards flick wide of the goal. As the first quarter progressed Japan was making a lot of strong tackles that was kickstarting some great counter attacks for their side. New Zealand was looking composed but were struggling to get around the Japanese defensive line.

New Zealand scored the opening goal of the match after Japan couldn’t control the rebound off a well-struck shot, Maks Wyndham-Smith put the loose ball into the goal. Japan struck instantly straight back with a powerful drag-flick that beat the New Zealand goalkeeper for pace. At the end of an exciting first quarter, the two sides were tied at one goal apiece.

Both sides had an early penalty corner in the second quarter, however, neither side could break the tie to get themselves back in front in the contest. New Zealand regained the lead after some great short passing down the left-hand side of the field, Charl Ulrich then received the ball near the spot in the attacking circle and flicked the shot past the Japan goalkeeper.

New Zealand was forced to absorb some significant pressure from the Japanese side, they were looking stoic on defence and cutting down the Japanese opportunities. At the end of two quarters, the kiwis were in front 2-1 and looking in a good position to get their second win.

Japan levelled the match at the start of the third quarter when a Keigo Tamura drag-flick beat the New Zealand goal-line defence. Moments later Japan scored their third goal off another drag-flick, this time the flicker went high into the goal. Japan had their fourth goal off a quick counterattack and a ripper reverse stick shot from Sota Ukai

Heading into the fourth and final quarter New Zealand found themselves trailing 4-2 and were in desperate need of some early goals. Japan were looking composed in the final quarter and were kept the ball in New Zealand territory for long periods which was making it difficult for the kiwis to get themselves back into the match.

New Zealand 2 (Maks Wyndham-Smith 12 min, Charl Ulrich 19 min
Japan 4 (Keigo Tamura 12, 32 min, Riku Tamura 33 min, Sota Ukai 44 min)


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