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Black Sticks win seals series victory

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 20/11/2016

The Black Sticks have completed an unlikely women's hockey trans-Tasman series win with a 3-2 win over Australia in Auckland on Sunday.

The victory completes an intriguing three-Test series, which began in ominous fashion when the Hockeyroos dismantled New Zealand 6-0 on Thursday.

But the Kiwis regrouped, did some hard work in reorganising the midfield, and were rewarded with a 2-0 win in game two on Saturday.

They came out firing again at Lloyd Elsmore Park on Sunday, Kirsten Pearce slipping in the crucial deflection after Michaela Curtis slammed in a telling cross from out wide after just three minutes.

The Hockeyroos defence stepped up immediately, smothering New Zealand's attempts to build a wide game and creating some good opportunities on transition.

Black Sticks keeper Amelia Gibson needed to be on her toes, and made a couple of sharp saves late in the quarter to keep New Zealand in the game.

Sam Harrison doubled the Kiwi lead three minutes into the second quarter, producing a spectacular full-length dive on the far post to nudge in Jenny's Storey's superb cross.

Trailing 0-2 at halftime, the Australians launched an all-out up-tempo onslaught in the third stanza, controlling the midfield and having little difficulty finding their strikers in the circle.

They were rewarded in the 33rd minute when Georgie Morgan's drag-flick thundered home from the Hockeyroos' second penalty corner of the game.

Under siege, the Black Sticks dug in and looked to have squandered a golden chance when Natasha FitzSimons missed a penalty stroke midway through the final quarter.

But barely a minute later, Olivia Merry's diving finish restored New Zealand's two-goal margin after a superb pull-back from Harrison.

Australia's Brooke Peris took her chances as full time neared to punch home Edwina Bone's testing cross, and the Kiwis had to play the last six minutes under huge pressure as the Hockeyroos hunted the equaliser.

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