Nga Puna Wai continues to be a happy hunting ground for the Black Sticks, with both the men and women recording victories over the weekend against Argentina to leave them well positioned after their final homes matches of the FIH Pro League.
The women picked up four valuable points from their two matches, to move into second position on the table behind the Netherlands. Friday’s match was a tight affair, with a goal each to send the match to a penalty shootout. Argentina were more clinical in the shootout, converting three to New Zealand’s one to claim the bonus point.
The women exploded out of the gates in Sunday’s re-match, with local girl Olivia Merry scoring a first quarter hat-trick to put the Black Sticks well in control early. Argentina fought back, and reduced the score to a one goal deficit on two occasions, before Merry stepped up again to score late in the game and seal a 5-3 victory.
Merry is now five goals clear at the top of the Pro League goal scoring charts, a position she is becoming all too familiar with.
Sam Lane and Dominic Newman continued the goal scoring form of the local players, each finding the back of the net as the Black Sticks men pulled off a thrilling 5-3 victory. Lane opened the scoring from a well taken field, and the teams traded goals until late in the fourth quarter. Corey Bennett put NZ ahead with nine minutes remaining, and Newman finished things off as he blazed a shot high into the goal to send the crowd into a frenzy.
Lane was again on the scoresheet on Sunday, firing home twice to keep the Black Sticks within touching distance. In the end, Argentina managed to hold on and win 3-2, which leaves both teams on eight points and mid-table. The Black Sticks now travel to Europe in two weeks, where they have a tough set of matches against Holland and Germany.