The New Zealand women's hockey team will face Olympic champions the Netherlands in the quarter-finals of the World League Final in Tucuman, Argentina, after going down 5-1 to Australia in their final pool game this morning.
"It is a disappointing performance - our basic skills were not good enough and we were outplayed by Australia in most aspects of the game. In our defensive circle play, we miss-trapped too many balls which gave Australia easy opportunities,'' said head coach Mark Hager.
"Obviously, we are now in a tricky position where it will be a very tough challenge for us against the Dutch in the quarter final.''
New Zealand have created good opportunities to score throughout this tournament, and this game was no different, with Anita Punt, Sophie Cocks, Olivia Merry and Kayla Sharland all with their chances but just unable to get it through the tough Australian defence.
Australia, who have won all three of their pool games, were the first to get one on the board when Georgie Parker knocked home an easy goal from close range. In classic trans-Tasman style, the Black Sticks responded two minutes later when Punt drag flicked it low to the left and Petrea Webster deflected it in.
Although New Zealand had moments where they were tight on defence, the Australians continued to put the pressure on and it paid off when Ashleigh Nelson received a pass in front of the goal and she tapped it home.
The Black Sticks seemed more in control in the opening stages of the second half, but the Australians picked up the pace and their slick passing and skill work resulted in a field goal and penalty corner from Kellie White and a Jodie Schulz penalty corner conversion. In total, Australia had 11 shots on goal compared with the Black Sticks' seven.
The Black Sticks will now play the Netherlands who are top of the table in Pool A in a must win quarter-final at 1am on Friday NZT. In other games today, the Netherlands beat Korea 3-1, England beat Germany 3-1 and Argentina are still to play China to determine the final placings in Pool B.