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Black Sticks land Hawke's Bay Cup

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 10/04/2016

New Zealand have lifted the Hawke's Bay Cup for the first time after defeating Japan in the final 3-2.

The host nation of the women's hockey tournament in Hastings raced out to a 2-0 lead inside 10 minutes after goals from Olivia Merry and Gemma Flynn.

Former captain Kayla Whitelock extended the lead early in the second half before late goals from Miyuki Nakagawa and Mie Nakashima caused some consternation for the Black Sticks.

Captain Stacey Michelsen said it was pleasing to land a trophy after going close on a number of occasions.

"We certainly make it into a lot of semis and finals but it's been a long time since we've gone through to win, so we take a lot of confidence and belief going forward," she said.

"Things are looking good for us later in the year and we have a very strong group of players vying for those finals spots in Rio."

Assistant coach Sean Dancer said the tournament victory was an important step in their preparations for the Olympics.

"We targeted this tournament as a key one leading into Rio so we certainly wanted to play well and get results against some good teams and we achieved that which is pleasing," he said.

The home side were runners-up last year and were fourth in the inaugural year of the eight team tournament.

Australia, beaten 3-2 by the Black Sticks in the semi-finals, downed China 3-1 after goals from Grace Stewart, Jodie Kenny and Georgie Morgan to win bronze.

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