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Black Sticks draw with Malaysia in opener

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 23/11/2016

A revamped New Zealand have struggled with their finishing in an opening 1-1 draw with Malaysia at a four nations men's hockey tournament in Melbourne.

After creating the better chances in a goalless first half, New Zealand fell a goal behind shortly after the halftime break through a drag-flick goal to Sharil Saabah.

The Black Sticks mounted further pressure on Malaysia's goal, forcing several penalty corners.

The equaliser came with two minutes remaining when Jared Panchia latched onto a slick pass from Jacob Smith to power home.

New Zealand are coming off a 2-1 series loss to Australia in Auckland last week. Their win in the third Test was their first at home to Kookaburras since 1967.

Coach Colin Batch had injected five senior players, including four Rio Olympians, for the Festival of Hockey tournament.

However, the eighth-ranked side lacked finishing clout against their world No.14 opponents.

They didn't capitalise on eight penalty corners, to Batch's frustration.

"While we had some good opportunities, we didn't create any real goal shots," Batch said.

"To our credit we got a late goal thanks to some good structure and passing which was pleasing but one of the things we need to get better at in those situations is being able to win the game."

New Zealand's next game on Thursday is against Australia, who opened with a 3-2 win over India.

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