11 Dec 2011

Black Sticks to play Netherlands for bronze

5:20 am on 11 December 2011

New Zealand will go into this afternoon's Champions Trophy bronze medal match with their confidence enhanced by a strong showing in a narrow loss to Australia at the North Harbour hockey stadium.

It was to have been a must-win match for the Black Sticks, but Spain spoiled that by upsetting the Netherlands 3-1 in the early game.

Australia won 2-1, the first goal courtesy of Black Sticks defender Matt L'Huillier, who deflected in a cross from Desmond Abbott after 14 minutes.

The Black Sticks equalised when Andy Hayward scored from a penalty corner but after dominating the second half they conceded a simple goal with 12 minutes to go.

They still could have snatched a draw but couldn't convert the last of their eight penalty corners in the final minute.

The hosts still have a lot to play for though as they've yet to finish the top eight tournament with a medal.

New Zealand plays the Netherlands at 3.35pm before the defending champions Australia play Spain at 6.05pm.