Published Wednesday 01 August 2012

The New Zealand women’s hockey team’s dream start to their Olympic campaign continued today with a comprehensive 4-1 win over South Africa.
Coming on top of their opening 1-0 win over Australia, the result means New Zealand now sit top of their pool.
Delighted New Zealand coach Mark Hager said he would have been happy with four points – a win and a draw – from his team’s first two matches, so to score successive victories is a huge boost to his team’s hopes.
Just as they did against Australia, the Black Sticks grabbed a goal in the third minute, courtesy of a Charlotte Harrison shot from a penalty corner.
The New Zealanders piled on the pressure and added another goal from a penalty corner, this time to Clarissa Eshuis, in the 22nd minute.
When New Zealand captain Kayla Sharland rammed home a field goal in the 29th minute, the game shaped as a walkover.
However South Africa, ranked 12th in the world to New Zealand’s sixth, fought back with spirit.
Pietie Coetzee pulled one goal back in the 52nd minute with a penalty stroke and for a moment New Zealand seemed to wobble.
Sharland sealed matters in the 61st minute with a well-struck field goal to take her team out to a 4-1 lead, and that’s how it stayed.
New Zealand’s dominance was illustrated by the fact that they earned nine penalty corners, compared to none for South Africa.
Hager said the two victories showed his team had peaked at the right time.
He pointed to one area of concern.
“They are a young team and the biggest issue is that they haven’t been able to crush teams once they’ve got on top. We let them back in the second half.”
New Zealand’s next game is on Thursday, against world No 2 Argentina.