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Black Sticks' defence key to second win

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 3/05/2017

New Zealand have held out hosts Malaysia 1-0 to join the congested race for a place in the final at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

A staunch defensive effort was at the heart of the Black Sticks' second straight win in Ipoh, defying a vocal home crowd.

Kane Russell scored his third goal of the tournament in the 25th minute with a drag flick that screamed into the right-hand corner from New Zealand's only penalty corner of the game.

Malaysia forced seven penalty corners but squandered them all.

New Zealand notched two wins, a draw and a loss at the six-nation tournament heading into a high-stakes final qualifying match against Great Britain on Friday.

Those two teams are both on seven points, along with India, with defending champions Australia on 10 points and guaranteed a place in the final.

New Zealand have an inferior goal differential to the British, so must beat them to have any chance of advancing to the decider.

Coach Darren Smith was pleased his team have momentum on their side after beating Japan a day earlier.

"I thought we played well in defence today - we were fluid and tackled very effectively while our penalty corner defence kept them off the score sheet," he said.

"We will rest our bodies as much as possible now and prepare for a tough match up against Great Britain who are playing really well at the tournament."

Great Britain are coming off a 2-1 loss to Australia.

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