Triumphant Black Sticks men to return to Pro-League

The Black Sticks men will return to hockey’s elite Pro-League after beating France in the final of the Nations Cup tournament in Gniezno, Poland.

New Zealand won a penalty shootout 4-3 to finish the second-tier tournament unbeaten, after the scores were locked 1-1 at fulltime.

Goalkeeper Dominic Dixon was a hero in the shootout, denying goals to Timothée Clément and Brieuc Delemazure to give the Black Sticks an early advantage.

Sean Findlay, Scott Boyde and captain Nic Woods converted their chances but Isaac Houlbrooke struck the post to create late tension before Kane Russell converted on their fifth and final attempt to secure victory.

New Zealand goalkeeper Dominic Dixon.

Earlier, Jonty Elmes broke the deadlock midway through the final quarter of what had been a cagey final, finding the net via an overhead strike.

New Zealand’s hopes of victory in regular time disappeared when Victor Charlet converted from a penalty corner with three minutes remaining.

The win followed the men’s team Olympic qualification earlier this year and was testament to the improvements they had made, Woods said.

“It shows how much we’ve grown as a team – it’s really developed from two years ago to now and I’m so happy with this result.

“We were well-drilled today. It was tough conditions to play fluent hockey, but the game plan that we had suited us perfectly.

“I think that’s our first tournament win for nine years. Maybe I’ve got that wrong but it seems like a very long time between innings for us.”

Woods reserved praise for veterans Simon Child and Hugo Inglis, who had been influential throughout the tournament and combined to set up Elmes’ goal.

“The old guys have been absolutely sensational. We have a couple of days until the selections for the Olympics so it’s going to be a tough time for the selectors.”

Black Sticks women fourth, Sam Child retires

The Black Sticks women placed fourth at their Nations Cup tournament in Terrassa, Spain.

They were beaten 2-1 by Ireland in the semi-finals and lost the playoff for third against Chile by the same scoreline.

Midfielder Sam Child announced her retirement on the eve of the match, ending her career with 277 test caps, the third-most by any New Zealand woman.

Sam Child.

Child (nee Charlton) made her debut against Australia as a teenager in 2010 and finishes as one of New Zealand’s finest players, having been a fixture in the midfield at a host of major tournaments.

She played at the London, Rio and Tokyo Olympic Games, and was part of the 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medal-winning side and 2014 bronze medal-winning side.

“It was difficult; this team has given lots to my life over the last 14 years and I’m not sure I’ll ever feel like I have given enough back,” Child said.

“And I think that’s what kind of drove me to play a couple more games (after the Olympic Qualifiers). I really wanted to be a part of helping the team drive forward after such a big loss that we had earlier in the year.

“I’ve been really privileged to have so many highlights along the way. One of my most memorable would have to be winning gold in the Gold Coast. But also definitely the Olympic Games where we came fourth, both in London and Rio.”

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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