Hard & Fast: Black Sticks Beat Great Britain At Champions Trophy

 Look at those GB defenders

Look at those GB defenders

The Black Sticks women grabbed their first win of the Champions Trophy tournament in London, beating a local Great Britain side 1-0.

Stacey Michelsen scored the kiwis' goal with a dazzling run form her right-half position which like Anita McLaren's turbo-charged runs through midfield, is a staple of the Black Sticks.

Michelsen was impressive throughout the game, doing her core job as a defender nicely but it's her attack that gave the Black Sticks a huge edge over GB. The only goal came from Michelsen's individual brilliance and Michelsen sparked much of the Black Sticks' attack with her dribbling skills.

That goal came in the first minute and it was disappointing for the Black Sticks that they were unable to take further opportunities, even though they were more dominant in attack. 
GB came back into the game strongly but they struggled to pose much of a threat, missing basic traps and lacking cohesion going forward. 

A key player for the Black Sticks at the back was Brooke Neal and it was a better defensive performance from the kiwis, although GB definitely lacked the skill of Netherlands and Australia. 

Neal was crucial in intercepting passes and making important one-on-one tackles that helped keep GB scoreless. 

New Zealand jumped from last to 4th with that win, leap-frogging GB and USA who are yet to score a win after three games. Two wins from their remaining games against Argentina and USA could see the kiwis make a dramatic jump into the final if other results went their way. 

They face Argentina on Friday and with Argentina sitting in 2nd, this is a big test for the Black Sticks. Not only do they need to beat a very slick team to have a chance of making the final, they have struggled so far against stronger opposition so they've got to show that they can genuinely hang with the world's best ahead of the Olympics.