Two late penalty corner goals helped New Zealand beat Italy 3-0 in their opening match the women’s Olympic hockey qualifying tournament in Ranchi, India.

Frances Davies scored a brace off penalty corners and either end of the game and Stephanie Dickins struck the third with a direct attempt off a short corner as New Zealand started their campaign on winning note.

New Zealand dominated possession and 15 shots on target compared to Italy’s two but struggled with their finishing in general play against a resilient defence.

Experienced defender Davies found the scoresheet in the seventh minute off a rebound but they failed to score again until their late double.

New Zealand’s second game on Monday morning is against hosts India before they round out group play against the United States.

The top two teams from two groups of four advance to the semi-finals.

From there, three teams will book their ticket to Paris – the two finalists and the winners of the third-fourth playoff.

The Black Sticks men begin their equivalent campaign in Muscat, Oman against Chile on Tuesday morning.

Germany and Canada are their other opponents in the group stage.

rnz.co.nz

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