Third quarter blitz sees Black Sticks women home in series finale against India

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NZN

The Black Sticks have wrapped up their five-Test women's hockey series against India with a slick 5-2 win in Hamilton today.

Stacey Michelsen in action.
Vantage Black Sticks Women vs India. International Hockey. Rosa Birch Park, Pukekohe, Auckland, New Zealand. Tuesday 16 May 2017 © Copyright Photo: Andrew Coranga / www.photosport.nz

Black Sticks player Stacey Michelsen in action against India.

Source: Photosport

Ahead 2-0 after the first quarter, and 3-1 at halftime, the Black Sticks slammed home three third-quarter goals to put the match beyond doubt with 15 minutes remaining.

Kirsten Pearce opened the scoring in the third minute, deflecting in a well-placed Olivia Merry pass across the Indian goal before Merry doubled the Kiwi lead with a cracking forehand shot late in the first spell.

India hauled one back when Deep Grace Ekka found the net from a penalty corner, but Pippa Hayward restored the margin with a composed finish after India turned over possession at the top of the circle.

Indian skipper Ritu Rani converted from a second penalty corner early in the third spell to narrow the New Zealand lead to just one.

The Black Sticks responded with a devastating three-goal blitz, Natasha Fitzsimons and Sam Harrison scoring within 60 seconds before Pearce added her second with a cool solo finish.

Coach for the series Sean Dancer was happy to come away with a series clean sweep.

"As a coach you're never 100 per cent happy so there are certainly areas we need to get better at, but I thought the performance today highlighted some positive things we've been working on," he said.

"India were tough today, but a couple of our goals were scored through strong striker actions and that's very pleasing.

"India came out and hammered us in the third quarter but we've been working on how to handle those situations and it's pleasing that we came back and scored another three goals."

The world No.5 Kiwis dominated the 12th-ranked Indians across the series, winning the first two Tests in Pukekohe 4-1 and 8-2 before edging to a 3-2 win in game three and a 3-0 victory two days ago.

Coach Mark Hager, who handed the reins over to assistant Dancer for the Indian series, will now turn his focus to selecting the squad for the World League semifinals in Belgium next month.

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