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Black Sticks beat Spain in opener

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 21/06/2017
Olivia Merry © Getty Images Olivia Merry

A brutal Olivia Merry goal against Spain has handed New Zealand a winning start to the women's hockey World League Semi Final tournament in Brussels.

Merry blasted home a penalty corner goal early in the second quarter to hand the Black Sticks a 1-0 win at Stade Fallon.

There were otherwise few clear chances created by either team in an even affair, which allowed New Zealand a chance to avenge a recent series loss to Spain in Barcelona.

The world No.10 Spaniards won the four-match series 2-0, with the fifth-ranked New Zealanders failing to register a win.

New Zealand have a bye before they meet world No.4 Australia in their second pool match on Sunday (NZT).

The Australians opened with a 3-0 defeat of Malaysia.

The 10-nation tournament carries double qualifying status.

The top four finishers will qualify for the World League Final in Auckland in November. The Black Sticks are already guaranteed a place as hosts.

There are also five automatic berths available for the 2018 World Cup in London, although this number could increase, depending on results from subsequent continental championship tournaments.

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