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Black Sticks knocked out of finals contention

Published: 7:41PM Thursday December 06, 2012 Source: ONE Sport

  • Gutted: Simon Child of the Black Sticks (Source: Photosport)
    Gutted: Simon Child of the Black Sticks - Source: Photosport

The New Zealand Black Sticks are out of finals contention at the Champions Trophy in Melbourne after a hard fought 2-0 defeat at the hands of Netherlands.

The Black Sticks showed signs of brilliance on both attack and defence but were powerless to stop the unbeaten run of the London Olympic silver medallists at the tournament.

While Netherlands now progress to a semi final against surprise package Pakistan, New Zealand face a rematch against Germany in the first playoff for 5th to 8th place.

Head coach Colin Batch said while the result was disappointing, there were plenty of positives against Netherlands, who have now made the semi finals at the last 24 consecutive Champions Trophy tournaments.

"They're a very experienced team and have consistently done well at the Champions Trophy. We were expecting a hard game but I think any quarter final is like that, you have a chance. We certainly went in with a lot of confidence so I was disappointed with the result but happy with a large part of our game," Batch said.

"We continue to improve, which is pleasing. From where we started in this tournament to where we are now I think there are significant improvements so we hope to continue that in the next two games."

The Black Sticks played bravely in defence today, especially on counter attacks against a side which scored five goals against Belgium on Tuesday.

Batch heaped praise on the side's younger players, many of whom are playing at their first international tournament for New Zealand.

Goalkeeper Hamish McGregor had a particularly good game and was integral in restricting the lethal strikers of Netherlands.

"We put Hamish in the net for us and he did really well. He's only played four games so it's great experience for him."

With pride very much still on the line, the Black Sticks won't be disheartened by missing the semi finals and are now focussed on achieving the best possible placing.

"We've still got a lot to play for, we'll just be focussing on our own game as well as the positives and I think there were quite a lot of positives out of that performance.

"It's a tough tournament and that's why we're pleased to play in it. We find out a lot about our players and where we need to develop so we'll continue to do that."

The Black Sticks opened up strongly today and held their own for long periods in the first half, with high pressure defence repelling the Netherlands attack.

McGregor kept New Zealand in the game with several terrific saves in front of goal, including defusing two Dutch penalty corner strikes. But the fast pace eventually took its toll with Jeroen Hertzberger scorching a drag flick into the goal to put Netherlands up 1-0.

Shea McAleese and Nick Wilson both had golden chances to score in the first 35 minutes from penalty corners but both attempts were pulled wide.

The second half never offered much in terms of attack for the Kiwis with Netherlands continuing their dominance on the ball. Billy

Bakker's goal midway through the period saw the score slip out of reach for the Kiwis.

The Black Sticks face Germany at 1:00pm on Saturday.