30 Jun 2015

Black Sticks end pool play unbeaten

8:06 am on 30 June 2015

The New Zealand women's hockey team have wrapped up pool play with a perfect record after a 2-0 win over hosts Belgium at the World League tournament in Antwerp.

The Black Sticks' Gemma Flynn and Anita Punt.

The Black Sticks' Gemma Flynn and Anita Punt. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

In front of a vocal home crowd, Belgium defended hard for the entire game but goals from captain Anita Punt and Gemma Flynn sealed the result for the Black Sticks.

New Zealand finish on top of Pool B with four wins from four games as well as an unbelievable 21 goals scored for and zero conceded, including an upset win over world number two ranked Australia.

The Black Sticks are now confirmed to play Japan in their sudden-death quarter final on Wednesday 1st July at 1:30am (NZ time).

The winner of that match grabs a place in the semi-finals and assures themselves a top four placing at the tournament, earning the chance to compete at the World League Final in December.

Adding to the potential prize is the opportunity to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics, with the top three sides at this tournament securing an automatic berth.

Gemma Flynn, who has scored seven goals at the tournament so far, said it was good to get the result and now the focus shifts to the quarter finals.

"It's good to come through the pool games unbeaten and with a clean sheet, I'm really proud of our defence and the way we are playing for each other," she said.

"We've got a few work ons from today but it's good to take away the win and now our focus really turns to Japan.

"Japan can play a similar way to how Belgium did today and they defend hard so we need to counteract that. We know what we need to do to get it done."

The Black Sticks had all the early running and possession but Belgium were buoyed by their home crowd and defended desperately.

Punt opened the scoring in the 12th minute when she smashed home her own rebound from a penalty corner flick.

Both sides had their chances throughout the second quarter but couldn't find the back of the net and New Zealand carried a one goal advantage into half-time.

Flynn continued her hot scoring streak just three minutes into the second half, delivering a punishing blow from the top of the circle to give the Black Sticks a two goal buffer.

New Zealand had the majority of possession throughout the rest of the game but Belgium pushed their players behind the ball and the Black Sticks couldn't add to the score sheet.