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Black Sticks beat Australia in semi-final

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 9/04/2016
File pic- New Zealand's Black Sticks and Australian Hockeyroos © AAP Image/Dean Lewins File pic- New Zealand's Black Sticks and Australian Hockeyroos

New Zealand have fought back to beat Australia 3-2 in a free-wheeling semi-final at the Hawke's Bay Cup women's hockey tournament in Hastings.

The Black Sticks avenged their loss to the Hockeyroos in the final of the eight nation tournament last year, maintaining their unbeaten run this week with a slick attacking performance.

World No.3 Australia's title defence looked on track when they powered 2-0 ahead through goals to Kathryn Slattery inside the first 21 minutes.

However, the fourth-ranked Black Sticks quickly regrouped, levelling the scores by halftime through Charlotte Harrison and Olivia Merry.

Play opened up even further in the second half but only one goal was scored, when Pippa Hayward collected a pinpoint assist from Gemma Flynn on the run and slotted the ball home cleverly.

The home side moved the ball well and looked particularly impressive late in the game when veteran playmaker Kayla Whitelock was moved to an advanced position.

New Zealand's run comes a month after they won a series away to Argentina.

They marched comfortably through pool play with three wins this week before thrashing Korea 6-0 in the quarter-finals.

The final is against tournament surprise packets Japan, who are also unbeaten.

Japan toppled fifth-ranked China 1-0 in their semi-final courtesy of a goal from a penalty corner to Hazuki Nagai late in the first half.

In classification games on Saturday, India beat Canada 1-0 and Ireland beat Korea in a shootout after the scores were locked 3-3 at fulltime.

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