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Black Sticks notch opening win over India

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 2/04/2016

New Zealand have opened their Hawke's Bay Cup women's hockey campaign in Hastings with a scratchy 1-0 win over India.

A goal to Olivia Merry 25 seconds into the second quarter proved the difference in a game the Black Sticks dominated but struggled with their finishing.

Merry's goal came via a slick one-two with striker Charlotte Harrison after Kayla Whitelock turned over possession in an attacking position.

The hosts of the eight-nation tournament had a mortgage on possession and chances in the first half but India threatened at times after the break as they sought an equaliser.

World No.4 New Zealand warmed up for the tournament with heavy wins last weekend over Canada, 6-0 and 5-1, but some chinks were exposed by the 13th ranked Indians.

A second pool B match between fifth-ranked China and world No. 13 Ireland was to be played later on Saturday.

Earlier, there were two unexpected results in pool A, most notably when defending champions and world No.3 Australia were held to a 1-1 draw by 10th-ranked Japan.

It took a late goal from Georgie Parker to secure a point for the Hockeyroos after Mie Nakashima had lifted the ball over goalkeeper Ashlee Wells to open the scoring in the 13th minute.

Hockeyroos coach Adam Commens says Australia took some time to get going, but played well once they did.

"Japan played well in the first quarter but once we got into the game we played well for the next three quarters and created plenty of chances," he said.

"This group hasn't played a lot of hockey together. We rotated our players against Great Britain recently, so I think well continue to improve game by game."

The tournament opened with a shock 2-1 win for 19th-ranked Canada over a Korean side ranked 10 places higher.

The Koreans led 1-0 at halftime thanks to Kiju Park but Canada responded through Briene Stairs and Holly Steward, the latter from a blistering shot 2min from fulltime.

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