Hockey: Sam Harrison strike snares draw for Black Sticks against Australia

By David Leggat

New Zealand celebrate a goal by Sam Harrison in the draw against Australia. Photo / photosport.nz
New Zealand celebrate a goal by Sam Harrison in the draw against Australia. Photo / photosport.nz

A late strike from in-form Sam Harrison earned New Zealand a 1-1 draw against Australia at the Festival of Hockey in Hastings tonight.

It was the second round robin match in the tournament between world No 4 Australia and No 5 New Zealand, and Harrison scored New Zealand's goals in both games, plus one against the United States.

A good leadup enabled Harrison to finish the move, with the equalising goal seven minutes from the end.

Victorian Madi Ratcliffe had given Australia the lead in the first half.

The Black Sticks had a late opportunity from a penalty corner but couldn't finish the chance.

However, going into the final round robin games on Saturday New Zealand are looking good to make Sunday's final. Australia have nine points, New Zealand eight, Japan six and the US 4.

New Zealand meet the US on Saturday in their final round robin match, and will want a win to maintain some momentum going into the final.

''It was a tight little game," assistant coach Sean Dancer said of tonight's result.

''I'd say the stats would be pretty close. Australia probably had the better of first half and we played quite well in the second and created good chances."

However the tournament has come at some cost for New Zealand, with star midfielder Stacey Michelsen ruled out of the last two games with a niggly knee injury, and she's back in Auckland and due for an MRI scan.

''The good news is there's no major damage there; the bad news is she won't be available for the rest of the week," Dancer said.

There is plenty of youth in the New Zealand squad, who are without a clutch of senior, vastly experienced players and Dancer knows the present squad have more in them.

''To be fair we're still not quite hitting our straps. We had a quarter or quarter and half and couldn't control the ball well enough.

''That's what we expect of a younger, newish group that we're going have periods like this.

''The pleasing thing is we've had two draws against the Aussies when we were behind and that shows good fight and spirit from the girls."

In the early game, the US beat Japan 4-1.

- NZ Herald

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