Hockey: Black Sticks women savour double delight

By Shane Hurndell


NZ 3 India 1

Napier

When it comes to sport a lot can happen in 24 hours ... just ask Greg Nicol.

The former Hawke's Bay Hockey Academy head coach is now Auckland-based and assistant coach of the New Zealand women's team which yesterday beat India 3-1 at Napier's Park Island a day after thrashing the tourists 7-2 at the same venue.

"That's exactly what we expected. India had an extra day to find their feet after arriving in the country on Friday," Nicol explained as the Black Sticks completed their wind down.

"Realistically that's what test hockey is all about ... teams have to fight for their wins and we were pretty chuffed with the way our girls fought back from 1-0 down and dominated the last 20 minutes today," Nicol said.

"At the same time we know there are still things to work on with this brand new group and we've got more time to do that," Nicol said, referring to the fact four more tests in the series, two in Palmerston North and two in Wellington, will be played this week.

Seven players made their Black Sticks debuts on Saturday and another one yesterday. One of the newcomers, Capital defender Aniwaka Roberts, shone in both tests.

Nicol was also impressed with the work of yesterday's captain and another of the defenders, Northland's Stacey Michelsen.

"Stacey showed why she was the best junior player in the world last year and the fact India's only goal today came from a penalty corner proved how organised our defence was," Nicol said.

One of the tourists, Deepika Thakur, was playing her 100th test yesterday and this was obviously a huge motivating factor for India, who were the better side during the first half despite having three fewer shots at goal than the Black Sticks. While they lacked the same speed and ball-carrying skills as the Black Sticks - as was the case the previous day - they certainly matched their hosts in the physicality stakes.

"We tend to keep our milestones under wraps as we lose those games but India obviously didn't mind announcing theirs today," Nicol quipped.

India's Jaspreet Kaur opened the scoring when she converted a penalty corner in the 46th minute. The Black Sticks opened their account six minutes later with a field goal from Canterbury midfielder Sian Fremaux after a goal circle scramble.

A 53rd minute field goal from Northland striker Charlotte Harrison gave the Black Sticks the lead and Capital midfielder Anita Punt completed the scoring when she converted a 60th-minute penalty corner.

A hat-trick from Olympic Games striker Katie Glynn was the highlight of the Black Sticks' victory on Saturday. The 7-2 scoreline belied a scratchy start from the hosts.

India dominated the early territory and possession and were rewarded with a fifth-minute field goal to Anupa Barla. Striker Julia King scored the equaliser two minutes later.

Canterbury striker Olivia Merry celebrated her Black Sticks debut with two goals, one in each half, and Glynn's sole first-half goal saw New Zealand ahead 3-1 at halftime. Glynn completed her hat-trick during the first five minutes of the second half.

Poonam Rani notched the tourists' other goal in the 15th minute of the second spell, before Punt and Merry scored within a minute of each other before the 64th minute of play.

The Black Sticks wore back arm bands on Saturday in memory of Robyn Mactaggart, who died last month after a long illness. Mactaggart was a passionate hockey supporter and was instrumental, along with husband Bruce, in developing the unique sponsorship between the Hawke's Bay community and the Black Sticks. The sponsorship involved business and community leaders coming together to support the Black Sticks men and women on their journey to the 2012 London Olympics.

Hawke's Bay Hockey general manager Don Clark was thrilled with the crowd support on both days - almost 760 on Saturday and 925 yesterday.

"We've only missed one year in the last three when Black Sticks tests have been allocated around the country. Hopefully we'll be on the list to get some more as Hockey New Zealand have a policy of spreading these matches around," Clark said. He agreed yesterday's match was batter to watch as the tourists gave the Black Sticks a better workout.

Scorers:

Saturday: New Zealand 7 (Katie Glynn 3, Olivia Merry 2, Julia King, Anita Punt), India 2 (Anupa Barla, Poonam Rani). HT: 3-1.

Yesterday: New Zealand 3 (Sian Fremaux, Charlotte Harrison, Anita Punt), India 1 (Jaspreet Kaur). HT: 0-all.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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