10 Apr 2016

Black Sticks win Hawke's Bay Cup

8:49 pm on 10 April 2016

The New Zealand women's hockey team have beaten Japan 3-2 to win the final of the Hawke's Bay Cup.

New Zealand's Stacey Michelsen with the cup after the win.

New Zealand's Stacey Michelsen with the cup after the win. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Black Sticks made a blistering start to the final netting twice in the first quarter.

Olivia Merry was first on the scoresheet after just four minutes and Gemma Flynn made it two in the ninth minute.

Three minutes into the third quarter the Black Sticks scored again through Kayla Whitelock.

But Japan had other ideas. With five minutes in the match remaining the Japan captain, Miyuki Nakagawa, reduced the deficit.

In the last 30 seconds of the game Mie Nakashima scored Japan's second, but the Black Sticks clung on for their first victory in the annual eight team, invitational tournament.

The Black sticks sssistant coach Sean Dancer said winning the tournament was pleasing going forward towards the Rio Olympic Games in August.

"In the first half we opened it up and played some really good hockey. We lapsed a little bit at the end and gave them an opportunity to get back into it which isn't good but it's a good learning experience," he said.

Black Sticks Kayla Whitelock (L) and Olivia Merry celebrate a goal

Black Sticks Kayla Whitelock (L) and Olivia Merry celebrate a goal Photo: PHOTOSPORT

"We wanted to be on the front foot, aggressive and put pressure on their defence which we did well in the first half.

"We targeted this tournament as a key one leading into Rio so we certainly wanted to play well and get results against some good teams and we achieved that which is pleasing."

Black Sticks captain Stacey Michelsen said the Hawke's Bay Cup triumph was a glimpse at bigger things to come later in the year.

"To come away with a win at the tournament is great. We certainly make it into a lot of semis and finals but it's been a long time since we've gone through to win, so we take a lot of confidence and belief going forward," she said.

"Things are looking good for us later in the year and we have a very strong group of players vying for those finals spots in Rio."

New Zealand's Gemma Flynn celebrates her goal.

New Zealand's Gemma Flynn celebrates her goal. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

New Zealand finished fourth in the inaugural tournament in 2014 and were runners-up to Australia in 2015.

Earlier, Australia defeated China 3-1 in the play-off for bronze.

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