New Zealand dodged a bullet to finish top qualifiers from pool B at the women's Festival of Hockey event in Hastings tonight.

The world No 4 team were 1-0 down to No 15 Ireland at halftime, courtesy of a Nicola Evans goal. However Anita Punt, from a penalty corner, Stacey Michelsen, with a reverse stick shot, and Charlotte Harrison, in her 200th international, scored to give the Black Sticks a 3-1 win, to follow victories over India and China.

Black Sticks assistant coach Sean Dancer said it was a tough game against an improving Irish side.

"Ireland were always going to be a strong opponent, and they gave us a really good contest which is a good thing going into the quarter-finals," he said.


"We weren't so good in the first half and we had to weather the storm under pressure. In the second half though our girls really fired up performed strongly."

New Zealand will now play world No 9 Korea in the quarter-finals on Thursday.

In other games yesterday, China beat India 2-1, while in pool A, world No 3 Australia beat Canada 4-0 and Japan beat Korea 2-1.

The other quarter-final matchups have India (ranked 13) playing Japan (10), Australia meeting Ireland and China (5) playing Canada (19).

Wins for New Zealand and Australia would have them clash in Saturday's semifinals.