New Zealand have a day to reflect on their poorest performance of the six-match series against Argentina before attempting to bounce back and win it on Friday.

Having gone 2-1 in the series on the strength of consecutive 3-2 and 4-1 wins, the world No 4 Black Sticks were well off the pace in losing game five 2-1 in Mar del Plata, leaving coach Mark Hager distinctly unimpressed.

Canterbury attacker Olivia Merry got the only goal for New Zealand against the world No 2 Argentina. The result means the rubber is all square 2-2 with the decider to be played on Friday (NZT).

"We were very poor. We didn't turn up," Hager said.

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"We were on the back foot from the start and never really recovered. We got to 1-1 but honestly we were probably lucky with that."

"Because we won last night we thought it was going to happen, rather than making it happen.

"In the end we were our own worst enemies. We've got to learn to be better in those situations and we're not, so it's very disappointing."

The first game was a 2-2 draw, Argentina won the second 1-0, New Zealand took the third 3-2 and the fourth 4-1 before today's setback.

Taking a series win home from Argentina would be a considerable feather in the Black Sticks' cap, especially with everything geared towards being ready for a big campaign at the Rio Olympics in August.

Thursday (NZT) is a rest day and a trip to the beach, but rather than delivering any rockets or hockey's equivalent of naughty boy nets, Hager says much of the responsibility now rests with the players.

"Everybody's just got a bit of soul searching to do," Hager said.