5 Jul 2015

Black Sticks finish 4th in Belgium

5:44 am on 5 July 2015

The New Zealand women's hockey team has finished fourth after being beaten 4-2 by Australia in the bronze medal match at the FIH World League Semi-Final in Antwerp.

The result means the Black Sticks miss out on a top three placing and automatic qualification for the 2016 Rio Olympics, with the Hockeyroos having now booked their tickets to Brazil.

The Black Sticks' player Anita Punt in action.

The Black Sticks' player Anita Punt in action. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

New Zealand's next shot at Olympic qualification is at October's Oceania Cup in Stratford, where they can claim a spot by winning the Oceania title.

The top four finish has however earned them the right to compete at the FIH World League Final in Rosario, Argentina in December.

At the conclusion of the tournament New Zealand come away with a record of five wins and two losses, along with 29 goals scored for and six against.

Captain Anita Punt says it's disappointing to allow Australia to take hold of the game in the first quarter and a gutting result.

She says it was a really disappointing performance from them today, they didn't start the way they wanted to and that had them on the back foot.

Punt says they have to be better in situations like this and unfortunately it didn't come off for them today so they will go home, regroup and come back fighting harder.

Australia had the Black Sticks rattled early thanks to two goals in the first five minutes, with Emily Smith and Jane Claxton both capitalising on loose balls in the circle and beating goalkeeper Sally Rutherford.

To compound matters, the Kiwis lost Punt for most of the opening quarter after she copped a heavy blow to the foot and limped from the field. After medical attention she returned after the break.

Mariah Williams added to the tally late in the period to give Australia a daunting 3-0 advantage after the opening quarter.

It was a much more balanced second quarter with the best chance coming just out from halftime when Gemma Flynn dove onto a hard cross from Punt but her deflection went just wide.

Stacey Michelsen sparked some magic in the 34th minute with a brilliant solo run, dribbling side to side and beating six defenders before slipping the ball past the keeper.

But the Hockeyroos kept the pressure on and delivered a fourth goal just seconds out from three quarter time through a strong shot at the top of the circle from Georgia Nanscawen.

Punt pulled another goal back for the Black Sticks early in the fourth quarter when she rocketed a penalty corner drag flick into the top of the net.

New Zealand fought desperately in the dying minutes but couldn't find the two goals they needed to force a shoot-out.

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