Hockey: Draw ends World Cup ambitions

By David Leggat

Sophie Cocks of the Black Sticks takes on Aussie Anna Flanagan. Photo - Dirk Markgraf, www.265-images.com
Sophie Cocks of the Black Sticks takes on Aussie Anna Flanagan. Photo - Dirk Markgraf, www.265-images.com

New Zealand's medal ambitions at the women's hockey World Cup ended at The Hague tonight.

The Black Sticks, ranked fifth, had to beat Australia, ranked one spot higher, in the final pool A game for both teams. Instead the match, played in hot, draining conditions, finished in a 0-0 draw.

As coach Mark Hager had predicted earlier in the tournament, their 1-0 loss to Korea - a game they had targeted as must-win -- came back to haunt them today.

New Zealand had the better of the game overall, had six shots to Australia's two in an often-scrappy but tense and gripping contest.

The best chance fell to Auckland striker Krystal Forgesson, after fine work down the right by midfielder Anita Punt shortly before halftime.

Punt pulled the ball back for the experienced Forgesson to have a clear, and clean strike from six metres and she struck it just wide of the post.

Australia did get the ball in the net early in the second half but quick thinking by Forgesson, with captain Kayla Whitelock sitting out a two-minute suspension, who appealed to the umpires had the call reversed.

Australia had failed to take the free hit leading up to the goal with the ball moving instead of stationary.

Striker Olivia Merry got a one-on-one chance with Australia's goalkeeper Rachel Lynch in the eighth minute but Lynch blocked the shot.

New Zealand's one penalty corner - to two for the Aussies - had Lynch block Punt's low drive.

There was a pile of running and effort from both teams, with Whitelock and midfielder Stacey Michelsen particularly notable contributors, but ultimately frustration for the Black Sticks.

They will now play a classification match, either on Friday or Saturday, depending on their final placing in the pool.

New Zealand finished with two wins, two losses and a draw for seven points, while Australia ended with 10 points. Their hopes of finishing second in the group and qualify for the semifinals, depended on the world No 1 Dutch beating Korea in a game to be played early tomorrow.

- NZ Herald

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