30 Jun 2017

Black Sticks into World League semi-final

9:07 am on 30 June 2017

The New Zealand womens hockey team is through to the last four of the World League Semi-final in Brussels after beating Italy 2-0 in their quarter-final.

Black Sticks captain Sam Charlton.

Black Sticks captain Sam Charlton. Photo: Photosport

The result also qualifies them for next year's World Cup.

Five automatic berths for the Women's World Cup were available at the tournament with the Black Sticks sealing one of those thanks to a guaranteed top four finish.

The result also double qualified the Black Sticks for the Women's World League Final in Auckland in November, for which they were already an automatic inclusion as the host nation.

The Black Sticks now progress to the semi finals in Brussels where they will meet the Netherlands after they beat Spain in their quarter-final.

South Korea and China will meet in the other semi-final.

Head coach Mark Hager said it was great to accomplish the top priority of World Cup qualification.

"It's fantastic to qualify for the World Cup at the earliest opportunity, that was the number one thing for us to tick off here," he said.

"We were finally able to put away some goals which was pleasing. We continue to create plenty of chances and just need to polish the finishes.

"We're now looking forward to the challenge of either the Dutch or Spain in the semi finals, we will watch that game pretty closely and then get ready to play for a place in the final."

New Zealand opened the scoring in the sixth minute when a nice pass across the face of goal found Samantha Harrison open for a straightforward tap in.

Samantha Charlton doubled the lead early in the second half when she received the ball at the top of the circle and sent a rocketing shot past the goalkeeper on her reverse stick.

The Black Sticks continued to create opportunities on attack but Italy's desperate defence was able to scramble and avoid any further goals.

Italy put together some good plays of their own in the final 10 minutes but goalkeeper Sally Rutherford made several brilliant saves to keep a clean sheet.