Hard & Fast: Black Sticks Women + Men Update

The Black Sticks women have done the job in their first three games at the Hawkes Bay Cup, winning all three games and setting themselves up nicely for the knockout rounds.

A 1-0 win over India saw the kiwis toil away without much reward, unable to make the most of their opportunities and the sole goal came from striker Olivia Merry.

Game two was a 3-1 win over China, with Gemma Flynn grabbing a double and Sophie Cocks in an improved effort.  Game three also saw a 3-1 result in favour of the Black Sticks as the kiwis finished strongly once again against Ireland. In both of those 3-1 wins, the kiwis went a goal down and had to come back, showing off their class as each game wore on.

Anita Punt, Stacey Michelsen and Charlotte Harrison scored the goals against Ireland, which leaves Flynn as the leading goal-scorer with 2 goals. 

The Black Sticks now face Korea in the quarter-finals, quarter-finals in which every team gets to take part in. That's pretty weird and kinda makes pool play worthless, but for what it's worth the kiwi women will face off against Korea at 4:45pm tomorrow. 

Korea finished last in Pool A so you'd assume that the Black Sticks should be able to take care of them pretty easily. A win over Korea would likely see the Black Sticks face Australia on Saturday, although Ireland have caught the eye as a pretty good team and they could upset the Aussies.

The Black Sticks men get their Sultan Azlan Shah Cup title defence underway against hosts Malaysia overnight, 12:30am to be precise. 

As noted in my previous Hard & Fast regarding the Black Sticks, Malaysia present a unique challenge in front of home fans and this will be a very intriguing opener for the kiwis. 

We'll get a good gauge of how they're shaping up against Malaysia, especially after a few series' in Aotearoa leading into this tournament.