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Black Sticks and Hockeyroos win again

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 4/04/2017 Daniel Gilhooly

New Zealand have charged into contention at the women's Festival of Hockey after notching a 1-0 win over Japan.

The Black Sticks won a tight encounter in Hastings thanks to Kirsten Pearce's goal in the 20th minute to improve to second on the standings.

Australia lead on seven points, followed by New Zealand (six), Japan (five) and the United States (one).

With two round-robin rounds to play, momentum favours the trans-Tasman sides to oontest the final on Sunday.

World No.5 New Zealand followed their 3-2 defeat of the United States on Monday with an improved defensive showing, handing them two wins, one draw and one loss.

The defeat came in the opening round when beaten 2-1 by Japan.

That never looked like repeating in steady rain on Tuesday as the Black Sticks dominated the possession and goal-scoring opportunities.

They could only convert one chance, when Pearce flicked home a rebound after Japan goalkeeper Megumi Kageyama made a save from a penalty corner.

Australia remain unbeaten following their 3-1 defeat of the winless United States.

The world No.4-ranked side hit the lead through Jane Claxton at the end of the first quarter.

The sixth-ranked US hit back in the third quarter when Kathleen Sharkey levelled the scores, only for Emily Smith to grab the lead back for Australia soon after.

Hockeyroos rookie Ashlea Fey sealed the win from a penalty corner late in the final spell.

The next round of matches on Thursday pits New Zealand against Australia.

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