Daniel Richardson

Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

Hockey: Black Sticks beat Australia

Gemma Flynn opened the scoring for New Zealand. File photo / Joel Ford
Gemma Flynn opened the scoring for New Zealand. File photo / Joel Ford

The women's Black Sticks have got their Oceania Cup campaign underway in perfect fashion with a 3-2 win over Australia at the TET MultiSports Centre in Stratford this evening.

The transtasman rivals will likely contest Sunday's final after they breeze through their other pool outings against Samoa and Papua New Guinea so today's game served as an intriguing warm-up.

The Black Sticks were without utility Samantha Charlton, who missed the game with illness but was expected to come right during the next day or so.

New Zealand coach Mark Hager named three debutantes in his squad for the tournament and two started against Australia with Sophie Cocks and Brooke Neal included in the run-on side, while Elizabeth Thompson played from the bench.

The Black Sticks opened the scoring during a busy first spell, when Gemma Flynn finished a nice pass from Petrea Webster.

But New Zealand eventually gave the lead back to Australia after Rhianon Dennison was dispossessed and the Hockeyroos scored their second through Brooke Peris in the 31st minute, which added to Anna Flanagan's earlier effort from a penalty corner.

As the weather took a turn for the worse, the Black Sticks managed to string a few passes together and evened the ledger when skipper Kayla Sharland's shot from the top of the circle was deflected in by Webster.

With the floodlights on and the rain falling, both sides went to halftime with the score at 2-2 and the Black Sticks had goalkeeper Sally Rutherford to thank for such a scoreline after she made a couple of fine saves in the first spell.

Both sides had penalty corner opportunities during the first 20 minutes of the second half before Flynn turned provider as Cocks scored on debut to net the winner with just over 10 minutes left.

Krystal Forgesson had the chance to kill the game off with seven minutes to go but her shot went wide with just the keeper to beat.

Earlier in the day, the men's Black Sticks beat Papua New Guinea 18-0, while the Australian men beat Samoa 32-0. On the women's side of the draw, Papua New Guinea beat Samoa 2-1.

- APNZ

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