Black Sticks beaten by Japan

The New Zealand Women‘s hockey team has been beaten 2-1 by Japan in their opening match at the Tri Nations tournament in Cromwell.

Black Sticks player Kirsten Pearce. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Both sides battled hard throughout the game with Akiko Kato and Samantha Harrison trading field goals to go into halftime locked up at 1-1.

Japan broke the deadlock just five minutes from fulltime when Shihori Oikawa scored from a penalty corner to snatch the result.

Auckland 21-year-old Lulu Tuilotolava made her international debut in the narrow loss.

Head coach for the series Sean Dancer said his side wasn‘t clinical on either side of the ball.

“It‘s a disappointing final result for us and I thought our basics let us down at times in both circles. It was a scrappy first half with both sides creating scoring opportunities but lacking finishing touches,” he said.

“We need to make sure we recover well and get ready for a tough game against Australia tomorrow which we know they will certainly be up for.”

New Zealand is ranked four in the world and Japan 12.

The Black Sticks are back in action tomorrow against trans-Tasman rivals Australia in a rematch of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games final.