• Black Sticks Hopes Alive for Final of Tri-Nation Hockey Play

    The Black Sticks have suffered the second defeat in four days, losing once again to the Aussies in the Tri-Nations women’s hockey tournament.

    Is this suggestive of a trend?

    First, it was the Waratahs over the Highlanders in Super Rugby, now field hockey. What next?

    Ah, well. So long as the All Blacks continue to show the world how rugby is played, it can be forgiven if the country with the extra star on its flag has a lucky streak from time to time.

    The Black Sticks lost 3 – 0 to the Hockeyroos in Cromwell.

    Considering that it was much the same Kiwi side that took gold in last month’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games with a 4 – 1 win over the Aussies, there has been a seismic shift in the fortunes of the Black Sticks.

    They began the Tri-Nations with losses to Japan and Australia before rising up to get some revenge on japan with a 4 – 1 win earlier in the week.

    If this were the NRL, we could blame the coach, as Sean Dancer took over from Mark Hager for the tournament, but it is hard to suggest that Dancer could undo what Hager had done over the course of a month’s time.

    Dancer’s comments after the loss to Australia suggested that he is at as much of a loss as anyone to provide an explanation for the fall-off by the Black Sticks.

    “While the score may not suggest it, I thought we played some very good hockey in patches,” he said.”Credit to Australia’s defence which really closed down a lot of our attacking game.”

    The sunny spot lies in the fact that with three nations competing, the Black Sticks could earn an opportunity to play in the final if they can again beat Japan in a sudden-death playoff.

    Australia are already in the final regardless of what happens later today in their final round robin match against Japan.