The Vantage Black Sticks have come away with a 4-3 win against Japan in their opening match of the Ready, Steady, Tokyo test event in Tokyo, Japan overnight.
Both teams stepped out onto the turf for their first game in a series of 4 with the first quarter ending scoreless on both sides. The scoring opened up in the 2nd quarter with New Zealand’s Jacob Smith putting one in the back of the net in the 17th minute to give the Vantage Black Sticks a 1-0 lead.
Soon after Shea McAleese converted a penalty stroke to put the Vantage Black Sticks men ahead by 2 in the 19th minute of the game. The second half came to a close with New Zealand still up by 2.
Heading into the second half of the game, Japan got one on the board after Koji Yamasaki notched his first goal of the game in the 34th minute to close the gap for the host nation.
Japan managed to even the game up, 2-2, when Hirotaka Wakuri got one past the New Zealand keeper in the 39th minute.
Yamasaki was back at it again in the 41st minute giving Japan their first lead over the Vantage Black Sticks, 3-2.
As the game came to a close the New Zealand men weren’t giving away anything. With just 3 minutes to play Kane Russell found the equalizer, 3-3, for the Vantage Black Sticks off a penalty corner. Stephen Jenness then followed through with a last-minute thriller to give the boys in black the win, 4-3.
Next up the Vantage Black Sticks men will face world-ranked No. 5 India who have just pulled off a 6-0 win over Malaysia. The match will begin tomorrow (Sunday, August 18) at 10:00pm.
Vantage Black Sticks: Jacob Smith (’17), Shea McAleese (’19), Kane Russel (’57), Stephen Jenness (’60)
Japan: Koji Yamasaki (’34, ’41), Hirotaka Wakuri (’39)