Black Sticks women top Japan, faint hopes alive
The Black Sticks women's side have emphatically completed the first part of their must-win semifinal scenario at the Hockey World Cup, but it could be all for nothing.
Two goals from Anita Punt and other strikes from Sophie Cocks and Katie Glynn gave New Zealand a 4-1 victory over Japan in their penultimate Group A match in The Hague.
The win improved the Black Sticks' record to 2-0-2, sitting on six points behind Australia and the Netherlands on nine points and South Korea on seven points. Australia and the Netherlands meet in the final match today, with New Zealand needing the Netherlands to win and then beat South Korea in two days time, while beating Australia in their final match themselves.
An Australian victory or a draw today would see New Zealand's semifinal hopes dashed.
Cocks opened the scoring in the fifth minute off a penalty corner deflection but New Zealand had to wait until after halftime to put the game away. Punt scored her first in the 38th minute before Glynn sealed the victory a minute later.
Japan got a goal back in the 51st minute before Punt sealed the result with her second in the shadow of full-time off a long break-out and reverse stick shot.
The Black Sticks converted on only two of their 10 penalty corners but forced Japan's goalkeeper into 14 saves, with 18 of their 25 total shots on target.
New Zealand face Australia in their final group match at 8.30pm Monday night (NZ time).
The Black Sticks men are in action again at 8.30pm tonight (NZ time) against Germany in what shapes as an import Group B match.