Black Sticks show Japan no mercy in victory

Last updated 21:00 10/04/2014
Kayla Whitelock
Photosport
DOMINATING: Captain Kayla Whitelock gets a high-five from Stacey Michelsen after scoring in the Black Sticks' 6-2 victory over Japan in Hastings.

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The Black Sticks women have kept their chances of getting through to the Hawke's Bay Festival final alive thanks to a convincing 6-2 win against Japan tonight in Hastings.

''It was a solid performance from us today, but it was what was required. It now sets us up for a good challenge against Australia which is a must win game,'' said head coach Mark Hager.

''We had some great phases in the first half which allowed us to create some great opportunities and the finishing touches from Gemma and Sophie were the difference,'' ntsGsaid nteHager added.

''I thought in the second half, Japan created some good pressure, and the tempo of the game was slower, but we were able to keep our momentum and capitalise which was pleasing.''

New Zealand has two wins from four matches and now faces Australia on Saturday.

The Black Sticks scored in the fourth minute when Stacey Michelsen skilfully dribbled it into the circle passing it to Gemma Flynn who took the quick shot and scored.

Japan's captain Miyuki Nakagawa equalised 11 minutes later, but New Zealand bagged two more goals before halftime thanks to a cracking penalty corner drag flick from Anita Punt and a field goal from Sophie Cocks one minute before halftime.

The Black Sticks continued their dominance in the second half and maintained the majority of possession.

The score extended to 4-1 when Flynn fed captain Kayla Whitelock who knocked it in from a tight angle. It went the Kiwis way again when Punt scored a penalty stroke before Japan's Shihori Shibata edged one back.

Flynn tapped in her second from a Whitelock penalty corner variation to make it 6-2.

Earlier Argentina were kept uncharacteristically scoreless for the first quarter, unable to penetrate a tight Chinese defensive backline.

China looked aggressive at times and got some good forward momentum but struggled to convert their opportunities.

The tournament's top scorer, Argentina's Carla Rebecchi landed a backhanded slice into the net in the 23rd minute and struck again four minutes later to take the score to 2-0.

Neither team managed goals in the second half, leaving second ranked Argentina ahead overall on points aggregate and match wins for the six-team event.

Meanwhile, not even an unexpected power outage moments before they started could prevent the Hockeyroos from picking up their third consecutive win as they defeated Korea 5-3 at the Hawke's Bay Festival tournament in New Zealand.

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Quick goals from Emily Smith and Jodie Kenny in the early stages of the first half brought the Hockeyroos to a comfortable 2-1 lead over their opponents.

Anna Flanagan and Kellie White were fast to follow their teammates, adding to the score board in the second half to give the Hockeyroos a well-earned lead of 4-1.

Pairing up in the latter stages of the match, Emily Smith and Jayde Taylor worked together in order to land the team's fifth goal with Taylor having the last touch.

Korea rallied late with two quick goals but the Hockeyroos ran out 5-3 winners.

Hockeyroo Kenny celebrated her 100th match for Australia in the clash.

New Zealand 6 (Gemma Flynn 2, Anita Punt 2, Sophie Cocks, Kayla Whitelock) Japan 2 (Miyuki Nakagawa, Shihori Shibata) HT: 3-1; Argentina 2 China 0; Australia 5 Korea 3

- Fairfax NZ/AAP

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