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Black Sticks and Hockeyroos into final

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 3/06/2016

The Black Sticks will get another crack at hosts Australia in the final of the women's International Hockey Open in Darwin after beating Japan 2-1.

Goals either side of halftime to Kelsey Smith and Petrea Webster put New Zealand in command before Maki Sakaguchi scored for Japan two minutes from the end.

It hands world No.4 New Zealand another chance to topple the third-ranked Hockeyroos in the decider on Saturday. The home side came from behind to win their round-robin game 2-1 on Thursday.

The four-nation tournament also includes India, who lost 2-1 to Australia on Friday.

Black Sticks coach Mark Hager was happy with elements of his team's performance.

"It wasn't pretty tonight, we were a bit scrappy but did enough and were able to contain a Japan side which pushed us hard," he said.

"They put us under a lot of pressure which was valuable in highlighting some things we need to work on."

Hager said the game against Australia was the sort of high-pressure game which would help him acutely as he seeks to finalise his squad for the Champions Trophy in London this month, followed by the Olympics.

Both of New Zealand's goals came in open play.

Smith's 28th-minute effort came from a clever baseline run before she collected her own deflection and scored with a reverse stick shot. Webster showed quick reactions to pounce on a loose ball 4min after halftime.

New Zealand applied most of the second-half pressure but conceded from a clever Japanese penalty corner variation.

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