Hockey: Black Sticks Women crushed by Australia

Grace Stewart of Australia celebrates her goal.
Grace Stewart of Australia celebrates her goal. Photo credit: Getty

Australia's marathon travel schedule in the women's Pro League has begun in style with a 5-1 dissection of New Zealand in Auckland.

Grace Stewart bagged a brace in the final quarter on Thursday to cap an important win for the Hockeyroos, who were stunned 3-1 by New Zealand when the teams met in Sydney three weeks ago.

While the Kiwis created more chances, Australia's finishing was far more clinical, bagging a goal in every quarter.

The result cements Australia's fourth position in the nine-nation league, with the leading four teams qualifying for the semi-finals in late June. Near rivals New Zealand remain sixth.

In a quirk of the draw, the Hockeyroos played their first eight League matches on home soil and play their last eight on the road, starting with the Auckland clash.

They face second-placed Argentina in Buenos Aires next week.

Australian midfielder Jane Claxton, who was named player of the match, was delighted to see their attack starting to show some polish.

"We've had some games where we haven't put goals in the back of the net," she said.

"Today it wasn't just our penalty corners, it was team goals. We built up from the back."

Goalkeeper Rachael Lynch was another hero, pulling off a number of saves and only conceding a contentious goal late in the first half from Deanna Ritchie.

Australia had scored twice before then through Kaitlin Nobbs and captain Emily Chalker while Savannah Fitzpatrick put them 3-1 up soon after the main break.

With a handful of senior players missing with injury, coach Paul Gaudoin handed a Test debut to 17-year-old Victorian Amy Lawton.

There was also a recall for experienced defender Kate Jenner, who hadn't played for Australia since 2015.