2 Jun 2016

Black Sticks fall to narrow loss

8:24 am on 2 June 2016

The New Zealand women's hockey team has been beaten 2-1 by Australia in their latest game at the four-nation tournament in Darwin.

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

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

The Black Sticks dominated the first half but could only convert one of their chances with Olivia Merry putting a penalty corner strike into goal in the 21st minute.

Down by one goal, the Australians swung the momentum in the second half and scored two goals through Georgina Morgan and Emily Smith to seal the comeback win.

Canterbury midfielder Pippa Hayward played her 100th international cap.

Head coach Mark Hager said his side's approach to the game was pleasing, although they needed to get better at putting away scoring chances.

"We dominated for long periods and I was pleased with the majority of the game but they made us pay for a few bad errors," he said.

"If you look at the statistics we had a lot more goal shots than Australia, including two good opportunities that would have tied the game in the fourth quarter, so we can't afford to waste those.

"It's now a case of learning from that and regrouping for our next game on Friday against Japan who we know will be a tough challenge."

New Zealand played an up tempo game in the opening quarter and had the Hockeyroos on the back foot and forced into defensive mode.

Following a period of sustained pressure, the Black Sticks opened the scoring in the 21st minute when Olivia Merry cracked a powerful shot into goal from a penalty corner.

Australia struck back eight minutes into the second half with a penalty corner of their own, Georgina Morgan sweeping past goalkeeper Amelia Gibson to level the score 1-1.

The hosts took the lead for the first time early in the fourth quarter after a defensive error allowed Emily Smith to collect a loose ball for a quick-fire forehand shot.

The Black Sticks battled for an equalising strike over the final 10 minutes, and Sophie Cocks had great shot at goal right at the death but Hockeyroos keeper Ashlee Wells made an outstanding save to seal the result.

New Zealand beat India 4-1 in their opening game.

The Black Sticks final round robin game against Japan tomorrow night and a win will qualify them for this weekend's final.

India and Japan drew 1-all in the other game.