Black Sticks women win World Cup opener
The New Zealand women's hockey team kicked their World Cup hockey campaign off with a win, but still have plenty to work on.
The Black Sticks beat Belgium 4-3 in their tournament opener, in The Hague overnight.
The game remained scoreless for the opening 20 minutes before Krystal Forgesson struck first for New Zealand, from their first penalty corner.
Forgesson got low and deflected Anita Punt's drag flick into the top of the goal.
New Zealand scored twice more in the first half, through Forgesson again after a scramble from the side's second penalty corner and through Punt directly from their third.
Captain Kayla Whitelock scored the side's fourth, nine minutes into the second spell when she tapped in Sophie Cocks' bounce pass inside the Belgium circle.
The Belgians fought back well scoring three goals in the next nine minutes as, for a short spell at least, New Zealand had no answer.
The third goal came in controversial fashion.
A penalty corner was called after the ball looked to have hit Samantha Charlton. Charlton immediately appealed the decision and was adamant the ball had, legally, struck her hand on her stick. Replays proved inconclusive and to the New Zealand side's dismay, the penalty corner stood.
The first attempt led to another penalty corner which in turn led to a penalty stroke.
New Zealand goal keeper Sally Rutherford got a touch on Stephanie De Groof's stroke, but it was still converted.
That left New Zealand with a nervous 15-minutes to defend including two more Belgian penalty corners, but Mark Hager's side held on to win.
In other matches in the women's tournament, Australia beat Korea 3-2 and hosts and world No 1 the Netherlands thumped Japan 6-0.
Australia had an opening win in the men's tournament, 4-0 over Malaysia, Belgium beat India 3-2 while England and Spain drew 1-1.
Result: New Zealand 4: (Krystal Forgesson 2, Anita Punt, Kayla Whitelock) Belgium 3: (Barbara Nelen, Emelie Sinia, Stephanie De Groof) HT: New Zealand 3-0.
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