The Vantage Black Sticks Men have finished sixth overall at the Hockey World League Semi Final in Johannesburg after being edged 1-0 by Ireland in their classification playoff.

It was a tight contest which saw both sides locked in a goalless stalemate for most of the game before Ireland delivered the winning strike with a 49th minute field goal from Alan Sothern.

New Zealand created some quality scoring opportunities over the final 10 minutes as they fought for an equaliser but weren’t able to cross the Irish line.

The result sees Ireland secure the final automatic qualification spot up for grabs at the tournament for the 2018 Hockey World Cup in India.

The Black Sticks will now need to go down a different route to qualify for the World Cup with their next opportunity through the Oceania Cup from 11-15 October in Sydney.

Experienced campaigner Shea McAleese marked a huge personal milestone during the match with his 250th test appearance for New Zealand.


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