26 Jun 2017

Black Sticks beaten by Belgium

7:15 am on 26 June 2017

The New Zealand women's hockey team has been beaten 1-nil by hosts Belgium in their latest game at the World League semi-final in Brussels.

Jordan Grant.

Black Sticks player Jordan Grant. Photo: Photosport

It is their first loss of the tournament.

Belgium played an up tempo attacking game against the Kiwis, who were strong on defence until a 44th minute goal broke the deadlock.

The Black Sticks created plenty of their own chances but struggled to break down the defence in the crucial stages with 11 shots at goal and six penalty corners during the match.

Assistant coach Sean Dancer said it was a tough clash against Belgium who were in form and benefited from a home crowd.

"We knew Belgium were going to be a tough game and they certainly proved that today. They're a side who has progressed immensely over the past 12 months," he said.

"They were able to shut us down in some parts of the game and we struggled to respond to that pressure.

"We need to go away and make sure we put together a top performance against Malaysia to get some momentum going into the quarter finals."

It was a fast-paced opening quarter with both sides creating chances on attack but unable to put goals into the back of the net.

Belgium had the advantage in possession in the first half although the Black Sticks played very well on defence to keep out of trouble.

The hosts broke the shackles late in the third quarter when Anouk Raes put on a spin move in the circle and hit into goal between the legs of goalkeeper Sally Rutherford.

New Zealand battled to find an equaliser after the goal and had several great chances from penalty corners but Belgium's desperate defence held firm.

The Black Sticks have won 2 and lost 1 so far.

Their last pool game is against Malaysia tomorrow night.