The Black Sticks Women have finished in winning style by defeating China 4-0 to finish fifth overall at the Rabobank Hockey World Cup in The Hague.
The result of the 5th/6th classification playoff sees New Zealand finish with three wins, two losses and a draw at the tournament.
China won both games against the Black Sticks at the Hawke’s Bay Festival of Hockey earlier this year, but today the Kiwis showed grit and determination to take bragging rights.
Anita Punt was once again on point with her drag flicking, scoring a double to boost her World Cup goal tally to five while Kayla Whitelock and Krystal Forgesson were also on the score sheet.
Head coach Mark Hager said it’s disappointing not to have made the finals, but pleasing to finish on a positive note.
“I’m very pleased to finish the way we did. It’s a bit of a hollow feeling though; we let one slip in the pool round against Korea where we lost 1-0, and if we’d had that win we could have been in one of the finals,” he said.
“One thing our team is striving for is not just to participate, we want to play in finals and I think we grew over the tournament but still have a bit to go. While we’re disappointed, we are pleased to have got the result today to finish in the top six.”
The Black Sticks were fast starters and opened the scoring in the sixth minute thanks to an Anita Punt drag flick from a penalty corner.
China fought back throughout the first half and put together some good phases, although Bianca Russell played outstandingly in goal and made several crucial saves.
Ahead by one goal at halftime, the Kiwis tightened the screws in the second period and earned a penalty stroke early in the half which Kayla Whitelock easily put away.
Punt added her second drag flick with 10 minutes on the clock before Krystal Forgesson sealed the result just minutes later with a stunning over the shoulder flick from Whitelock’s shot at goal.
The Black Sticks Men close out their tournament tomorrow in the 7th/8th classification playoff against Spain at 6pm (NZ time), live on SKY Sport 3.