Black Sticks women rebound to secure bronze

NATHAN BURDON IN GLASGOW
Last updated 09:24 03/08/2014
Black Sticks
Photosport

SOMETHING TO SMILE ABOUT: Black Sticks players celebrate a goal.

David Nyika
ROBERT KITCHIN/Fairfax NZ Zoom
David Nyika in action against Kennedy St Pierre of Mauritius in the light heavy gold medal bout.

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Two goals from Jordan Grant have helped the New Zealand women's hockey team to a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games this morning.

The Black Sticks beat South Africa 5-2 in the playoff for third place to provide some consolation for yesterday's semifinal loss to England.

Black Sticks coach Mark Hager was proud of the way his team lifted despite yesterday's dejection.

''We spoke last night and said 'you're better off going home with a medal than not'.

"We needed to take pride in our performance, we were so disappointed in how we played yesterday. We felt we owed it to ourselves to put in a good performance,'' he said.

''I just don't think we played as a team yesterday. I know the players, that's what they were disappointed about, that not enough people stood up yesterday.

"For whatever reason we were a bit overawed. To be honest we don't play in a lot of... finals, the last final we played in was London [Olympics], which was two years ago.''

New Zealand started well against South Africa, with Anita Punt scoring after six minutes.

Leading 2-1 at the break, there were some concerns as the South Africans fought back to 2-all with 20 minutes to go, before Grant's brace and a goal from Gemma Flynn made the game safe.

The only blight on the game was a nasty gash around the eye to Petrea Webster after she copped a South African stick to the face.

''She's got some stitches, that's normal for Petrea, she's one of those players who puts her head where it shouldn't go,'' Hager said.

''To be honest we probably need more of those sort of players, if we want to win the big games, that are prepared to throw themselves at balls or in situations where you know you are going to get hurt.''

Conditions at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre became increasingly difficult as torrential rain fell for the first time during these Commonwealth Games.

With water starting to pool on the pitch, officials even considered stopping the game.

Black Sticks captain Kayla Whitelock said the water made life difficult for the players.

''It was pretty bad, the turf holds the water quite a lot so it is quite hard to play on and you've just got to get lift on the ball really and I think we did that in the second half,'' she said.

''We talked about it at halftime [that] we can't use our skills as much, we've just go to jink it in behind and that's how that last goal came off.''

Whitelock was pleased her team was able to finish the Games on a high note, despite missing out on the chance to play for a gold medal.

''We had to come out and play aggressive and we didn't want to go away with no medal. The motivation was to go out there right from the start and be aggressive. South Africa held on for quite a while and I thought if we got one up on them we'd pile the goals on and we did,'' Whitelock said.

''I thought our connections in the attacking 25m were a lot better than yesterday. There was a lot more confidence and strong receives and our basics were a lot better. The girls worked really hard and chased back and denied them from penetrating us.''

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New Zealand 5 (Anita Punt 6min, Krystal Forgesson 26min, Jordan Grant 55min, Gemma Flynn 62min, Grant 68min)

South Africa 2 (Marsha Cox 24min, Kathleen Taylor 49min)

- Stuff

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