[img_assist|nid=8681|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=220|height=164]Big scores marked the opening day of the Oceania Cup in New Zealand with the hosts putting 18 past Papua New Guinea men and Australia’sm men hitting 32 against Samoa.
The women’s competition provided some more balanced scoring with Papua New Guinea defeating Samoa 2-1 and the Black Sticks defeating Australia 3-2.
It was that come-from-behind win in theTrans-Tasman clash that headlined the day at the TET MultiSports Centre in Stratford, Taranaki on Wednesday.
The Black Sticks opened the scoring through Gemma Flynn but Australia scored the next two goals before a late second-half surge guided the Kiwis to a win.
With the score locked up at 2-all, debutante Sophie Cocks delivered the game winner with just five minutes remaining on the clock.
Flynn was outstanding in an attacking role for the Black Sticks, while captain Kayla Sharland, Anita Punt and debutante Brooke Neal were also impressive.
Kiwi head coach Mark Hager said it was pleasing to open the Oceania Cup campaign with a win but there is still a long way to go.
“It was a little bit scrappy, both teams didn’t handle the turf very well. They applied a lot of pressure and we struggled to get the ball out of the back at times and that’s something to work on for our next game,” he said.
“It was good for all three girls on debut [Brooke Neal, Liz Thompson, Sophie Cocks] to get out on the pitch and all three showed signs that they belong at this level.”
The Black Sticks Women are back in action tomorrow at 5.30pm against Papua New Guinea.
Earlier in the day Blair Hilton celebrated his 100th international cap in style as the Black Sticks Men rolled to an 18-0 win over Papua New Guinea.
The Kiwis were never tested by the visiting side and dominated from start to finish in their opening game of the tournament.
Striker Stephen Jenness ran rampant throughout the game and scored six goals while Hugo Inglis and Jared Panchia both notched up hat-tricks.
Tomorrow will be a much more difficult challenge against world champions Australia at 7.30pm (UK TIME 6.30am, Thursday). The game will be streamed live on the Hockey New Zealand website (www.hockeynz.co.nz).
Taranaki Electricity Trust (TET) is the naming rights sponsor of the Black Sticks Men and Women for the 2013 Oceania Cup. Visit www.taranakielectrictytrust.co.nz for more information.
TET Black Sticks 18: (Stephen Jenness 6, Hugo Inglis 3, Jared Panchia 3, Cory Bennett 2, Marcus Child, Blair Hilton, Joseph Bartholomew, Alex Shaw)
Papua New Guinea 0
Halftime: Black Sticks 11-0
Halftime: Australia 16-0
TET Black Sticks 3: (Gemma Flynn, Petrea Webster, Sophie Cocks)
Australia 2: (Anna Flanagan, Brooke Peris)
Halftime: Tied 2-2
Papua New Guinea : 2
Halftime: Papua New Guinea 2-0