[img_assist|nid=8681|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=220|height=164]Australia’s men took first blood in the trans-Tasman two horse race of the Oceania Cup defeating the Black Sticks 3-1 at the TET MultiSports Centre in Stratford, Taranaki on Thursday.
After the match-up was postponed due to heavy rain and wind last night, the sun returned to allow the game to be played during the tournament’s rest day.
The Black Sticks were first to score, but allowed the Kookaburras to score three unanswered goals in the first half. A top quality second period saw neither side able to find the net.
New Zealand’s head coach Colin Batch was pleased with the overall performance of his side.
“There were a lot of positives out of the game. Coping with the pressure that the Australians build is something we can improve on but we did really well with that in the second half,” Batch said.
“I thought both goalkeepers [Devon Manchester and Hamish McGregor] did well in the game. In the second half Hamish did what he’s good at – defending penalty corners, and we saw that today. Devon did well also so I’m pleased with both of them.
“Our focus now shifts to how we prepare for the final against Australia on Sunday.”
Blair Hilton opened the scoring for New Zealand after receiving a great pass inside the circle from Stephen Jenness and drilling the ball into the back of the goal.
The Kookaburras were quick to respond though, with Jason Wilson pouncing on a deflection off the left-hand post and flicking in past an off-balance Hamish McGregor in goal.
Australia found a rhythm late in the first half and added two more goals through Chris Ciriello and Russell Ford to hold a 3-1 halftime advantage.
The score would remain the same following a scoreless second half in which neither side could get the upper hand.
Friday is a rest day for all other teams at the Oceania Cup, with the action resuming tomorrow.
OCEANIA CUP RESULTS
FRIDAY 1 NOVEMBER (Replayed from Thursday)
TET Black Sticks 1: (Blair Hilton)
Australia 3: (Jason Wilson, Chris Ciriello, Russell Ford)
Halftime: Australia 3-1