Tight NZ match keeps crowd on edge

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Irish player Deirdre Duke goes up against Black Stick Sophie Cocks. Photo / Paul Taylor
Irish player Deirdre Duke goes up against Black Stick Sophie Cocks. Photo / Paul Taylor

It was a tense atmosphere at Hawke's Bay Sports Park yesterday as the Black Sticks went into the third quarter of their match trailing by one goal to Ireland.

A good crowd turned out to watch yesterday's final game, the 12th of the Hawke's Bay Cup, and the one New Zealand needed to win to take the top spot of Pool B from China by goal differential.

Dusk fell over the stadium as Irish player Nicola Evans scored the match's first goal, with no others scored by either side until the third quarter.

The Black Sticks fought against the Irish defence before Anita Punt scored their first goal, going into the final quarter drawn.

Despite the Irish team's best efforts, the Black Sticks ended the match on a high with a goal from Stacey Michelsen, and the final goal scored by Charlotte Harrison in her 200th game.

Kayla Whitelock (left) celebrates the Black Sticks first goal against Ireland with Anita Punt. Photo / Paul Taylor
Kayla Whitelock (left) celebrates the Black Sticks first goal against Ireland with Anita Punt. Photo / Paul Taylor

The Black Sticks are so far the only team in the Hawke's Bay Cup to remain undefeated, scoring seven points in pool play.

Earlier in the day drizzly skies, and a sprinkling of devout fans greeted the players for the ninth match of the Hawke's Bay Cup between Korea and Japan.

The teams brought contrasting form to the first match of the day - with Japan coming to the game at the top of Pool A after a win and a draw in the first two rounds, while Korea was at the bottom of Pool B, and yet to score a point.

With some slick offence Japan dominated the opening spell before a penalty shot by captain Bomi Kim put Korea in the lead. A tiring Korean defence saw three unanswered goals for Japan from Hazuki Nagai, Yuri Nagai, and Mie Nakashima.

The loss sees Korea anchored to the bottom of the table in pool A while Japan take top spot over Australia on goal differential, scoring 10 points in pool play against Australia's seven.

Korean fan Myung-sook Chul said it had been a tough start to the tournament.

"They have always been a hard team to follow," she said.

She was disappointed with the loss but complimentary of the victors.

"They started well, I had hope but the Japanese were too fast and skilful."

Despite the grim conditions and result, she took solace in her surroundings.

"I love the warmth of the weather and the people. It's a beautiful country."

With Korea looking set to bow out early, Mrs Chul said she and her husband were eager to see how the tournament unfolded. The following match saw Australia beat Canada 4-0. They took a 3-0 lead into halftime with penalty corners to Georgina Morgan and Jodie Kenny, and a field goal from Grace Stewart.

Canada's defence was more secure in the second half with Australia only able to add one further goal, also by Grace Stewart.

China and India faced off in the afternoon with China coming out on top with a 2-1 win.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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