Hockey: Sticks start strongly at Six Nations

By Daniel Richardson in Hastings

Anita Punt celebrated her 150th test for the Black Sticks by opening the scoring following a penalty corner. Photo / Getty
Anita Punt celebrated her 150th test for the Black Sticks by opening the scoring following a penalty corner. Photo / Getty

New Zealand have made a promising start to the Six Nations women's hockey tournament in Hastings with a 3-1 victory over Korea.

Playing in bright and sunny conditions in Hawkes Bay this evening, the Black Sticks, who took to the turf in their white, alternate kit, were dangerous on the counter-attack throughout the game.

After absorbing plenty of early pressure, New Zealand rebounded as Anita Punt, celebrating her 150th test, got them on the scoreboard following a penalty corner.

That wasn't her only trick during the first spell though as she delivered an accurate pass for Petrea Webster to convert New Zealand's second.

Webster's goal was crucial for the home side, who had spurned a handful of opportunities during the opening stanza as they lacked accuracy in the circle, while Kayla Whitelock (nee Sharland) was unlucky as she hit the crossbar with a thunderbolt shot.

With a two-goal advantage at the split, the Black Sticks added to their lead via youngster Olivia Merry mid-way through the second spell.

Korea, who enjoyed a heavy dose of penalty corners throughout the game, eventually pulled one back through Hyo Ju An in the second half.

Prior to that, New Zealand goalkeeper Sally Rutherford had looked nearly unbreakable and pulled off a couple of useful saves during the first frame, which helped the Black Sticks maintain their lead.

New Zealand, ranked fifth in the world to Korea's eighth, were able to close out the game in comfortable fashion, which should give them a boost of confidence as they eye tomorrow's outing against China.

The Six Nations tournament is the flagship product of the inaugural Hawkes Bay Festival of Hockey, which also features games between schools, masters and other representative teams during the two-week extravaganza.

In earlier results today, China beat Japan 2-0, while Argentina cruised past Australia 3-0.

Black Sticks 3 (Anita Punt, Petrea Webster, Olivia Merry)
Korea 1 (Hyo Ju An)
HT: 2-0

- APNZ

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