3 Jul 2017

Black Sticks finish third in Brussels

7:10 am on 3 July 2017

The New Zealand women's hockey team has finished third at the World League Semi-Final in Brussels after beating South Korea 1-0 in their play-off game.

Brooke Neal

Brooke Neal provided the pivotal strike. Photo: Photosport

World number one, the Netherlands beat China 2-0 in the final.

New Zealand was involved in a tight game with very few chances for either side, but defender Brooke Neal provided the pivotal strike with a penalty corner flick just six minutes from full-time.

The Black Sticks held much of the possession throughout the contest but couldn't hit all cylinders in the attacking half against the defensive Koreans.

Head coach Mark Hager said it wasn't their best performance of the tournament, but pleasing to come away with the result.

"I think we were all feeling a bit flat after yesterday [penalty shoot-out loss to the Dutch], and I don't think we've got over it yet," he said.

"Sometimes that happens in sport and you need to be resilient so I was happy that we were able to get that late goal and win the game.

"On the whole I think we need to be a bit fitter and work on our attacking skills leading into Oceania Cup and the World League Final later this year."

The Kiwis come away from the tournament with a record of five wins, one loss and a draw (lost on penalty shoot-out), with a stellar defensive record of just two goals scored against.

The bronze medal finish earns the Black Sticks valuable world ranking points as well as qualification for the 2018 Hockey World Cup in London.

New Zealand also qualified for the FIH Women's World League Final in Auckland from 17-26 November, although they were already an automatic inclusion as the host nation.

The Netherlands, China and Korea will join New Zealand at the World League Final, while the top four finishers at the World League Semi Final in Johannesburg will also book a spot.