This year's Festival of Hockey has been hailed as a resounding success - especially with the Black Sticks taking the Hawke's Bay Cup.

Festival director David Nancarrow said it was a great way to finish off the week.

It was the first time the New Zealanders had won the cup. They took it in a convincing 3-2 win. They were leading 3-0 until Japan scored two late goals.

Mr Nancarrow said Japan played well all week. "They have a unique, short passing, high-tempo game making them the sentimental crowd favourites."


He was happy with the crowd numbers during the festival saying it continued to grow. "We are very happy, numbers are well up on last year."

He said this could be due to the weather or increased interest. "It's pleasing to see more non-hockey people here."

He said crowds had been treated to some world-class hockey.

"Saturday was a brilliant day of hockey, with New Zealand getting up over Australia it was an incredible atmosphere."

He said another highlight came earlier on in the day with Ireland, 3-1 down against Korea, with two minutes to play. "They then got it to three all, scored with 20 seconds to play and then won the shoot out."

Mr Nancarrow said feedback from teams, particularly newcomers Canada and Ireland, had been fantastic.

"They all seem happy and want to come back."

Yesterday crowds huddled under the grand stand as the rain set in during the bronze play off between Australia and China. Aussie fan Ben Ironside said he was gutted not to see his side in the final.

"It was a cracker of a game against the Kiwis, pretty disappointed but, hey, that's hockey."

He said there were a few dubious umpiring decisions in the final moments, but credited the Black Sticks grit to "steal the win."

Young Kiwi fan Jessica Elmond predicted before the match New Zealand would "have it easy" in the final. "After the Australia game I think they will win against Japan by a few goals."

The 11-year-old's favourite player was Black Sticks striker Charlotte Harrison.

Elsewhere in the Furnware Cup, Iona beat Hamilton Girls' High 6-1 after Hamilton lost their goalkeeper just before half time and chose not to replace her.

Mr Nancarrow said Iona, having lost the past two finals, had finally broken the drought.