Hockey: Black Sticks take series

The Black Sticks women last night won their two-test hockey series against China.

The second match in Taupo was drawn 1-1 after the New Zealanders won the opening match 3-2.

A stunning first half goal from North Harbour's Rhiannon Dennison had the Kiwis in front 1-0 at halftime before Yang Peng responded in the second half to draw the score level.

Head coach Mark Hager said much like the first game, the team had good patches but were rusty at times.

"We played a good first half tonight, but had too many turnovers in the second half which really hurt our flow,'' Hager said.

"On the whole our team continues to progress and we still have a few players recovering from injury.

"We're happy to win the series and are looking forward to our next challenge in Hawke's Bay.''

The Black Sticks opened last night with all the momentum, creating plenty of chances with four early penalty corner opportunities.

Dennison got the Kiwis on the scoreboard when she pounced on a penalty corner deflection and drilled a stinging reverse shot into the top of the net.

After halftime the Chinese were much more composed and managed to find an equaliser early.

The Black Sticks reacted with some good patches of play but couldn't find a way past China's strong defence.

New Zealand now play in the Hawke's Bay Festival of Hockey from April 5-13 where they on Australia, Argentina, Korea, Japan and China.

Senior players Krystal Forgesson, Stacey Michelsen and Kayla Whitelock return to the side while Katie Glynn is still recovering from injury. It is the first test Michelsen has played since injuring her knee last April.

New Zealand 1 (Rhiannon Dennison)
China 1 (Yang Peng).

- NZ Herald

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