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Black Sticks book trans-Tasman final

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 8/04/2017

New Zealand are top qualifiers for the women's Festival of Hockey tournament final, beating the United States 2-1 in a tight final round-robin match.

The hosts would have been shut out of Sunday's final in Hastings if they lost and that looked a possibility when they fell behind to Caitlin Van Sickle's early penalty corner strike for the US.

However, the Black Sticks struck back with the goals in the space of five minutes soon before halftime.

A diving Kirsten Pearce connected with Samantha Harrison's pinpoint cross to level the scores before Brooke Neal drilled a penalty corner drag-flick to the bottom left corner of the net.

World No.5 New Zealand's opponents will be fourth-ranked Australia, who suffered their first loss of the tournament hours earlier.

They went down 2-0 to Japan, conceding a double to Yuri Nagai.

Australia and Japan finished level on nine points but the Hockeyroos advance to the final as second qualifiers courtesy of a superior goal differential.

New Zealand midfielder Rose Keddell, who played her 150th Test, says her team will need greater consistency against Australia following their stumbling performance against the USA.

"That's been a theme of our tournament. We're good in patches and when we play better games, it's because we've held it together for longer," she said.

"We started a bit shakey today for whatever reason. It was a good effort for everybody to get back into it.

"We still have to work on putting our chances away, we were getting so many of them."

New Zealand and Australia have drawn both of their round-robin clashes 1-1.

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