25 Nov 2017

Black Sticks beat England to reach final

6:13 am on 25 November 2017

A late goal from Olivia Merry has lifted the Black Sticks women to a 1-0 victory over England and into the gold medal match at the Hockey World League Final in Auckland.

Olivia Merry scores for the Black Sticks against England.

Olivia Merry scores for the Black Sticks against England. Photo: © Photosport Ltd 2017 / Alisha Lovrich

New Zealand dominated much of the match against World No.2 ranked England to secure their second successive shot at the World League trophy, having finished runners up in 2015.

After a goalless first half, the Black Sticks scored in the 55th minute when Merry sent a penalty corner drag flick soaring over the head of goalkeeper Maddie Hinch.

With time counting down a roaring crowd at the Harbour Hockey Stadium watched on with intent as the hosts held strong on defence to seal the result.

It's the second upset in as many games for the Black Sticks who beat defending champions Argentina in the quarter-finals.

The Black Sticks will play the winner of tonight's Netherlands vs South Korea semi final in the gold medal game at 8:15pm on Sunday.

Head coach Mark Hager said he was relieved to take the game and that it was an immense performance from his side.

"To come out and back up our effort in the quarter finals is very pleasing. I'm probably relieved more than anything but we have to refocus now and move on to the final," he said.

"The girls really stuck at it tonight and now we have a chance to come away with a gold medal in front of a home crowd which is fantastic.

"We can't thank the crowd enough and how great they were. When things were tough they gave us an extra pair of legs I thought. They were cheering and chanting for specific players and it was a bit like having another coach out there."