The Kookaburras completed a perfect Trans-Tasman Series on Sunday with a 3-1 victory over the Black Sticks in Auckland.
After 8-1, 4-0, and 4-1 wins across the first three matches, game four was much of the same as the FIH world number one side continued their dominance over the Black Sticks who haven’t beaten them since 2016.
After a slow start by their standards, the Kookaburras got going late in the opening term to take the lead over their opponents.
Dual Olympian Blake Govers opened the scoring at the 11-minute mark, followed by two goals in as many minutes by Tom Wickham and Jeremy Hayward respectively early in the second quarter. The home side hit back before the main break to bring the game to life, with Hayden Phillips capitalising on a loose ball to make the score 3-1.
In the second half, the Black Sticks played what was possibly their best half of hockey throughout the series, keeping the Kookaburras scoreless and not conceding any penalty corners. The side also had a number of quick breakaway plays and what looked like promising chances to edge closer to the Kookaburras’ score, however weren’t able to find the back of the net.
Phillips continued to cause headaches for the opposition defence but couldn’t break through for a second goal as the half-time score line remained at the final whistle.
Govers’ first-quarter strike meant he finished as the tournament’s equal-leading goal-scorer alongside teammate Nathan Ephraums with five apiece. Jeremy Hayward wasn’t far behind with three, while Ky Willott and Tom Wickham both scored two.
In game one of the series Govers reached a significant milestone, scoring his 100th international goal in just his 114th game in the green and gold.
Colin Batch’s side had plenty of contributors to the 19-goal total, finding the back of the net through seven different goal scorers. Goalkeepers Andrew Charter and Ben Rennie were solid at the back, only conceding a total of three goals across the four matches – with two clean sheets between them.
Batch told Sky Sports it has been a competitive week against the Black Sticks.
“I know we’ve won the games, but we have still got a lot out of the series,” he said. “It is always good to play another top nation so we are learning a lot from it.”
The series provided the perfect preparation ahead of next month’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham as the Kookaburras look to claim a remarkable seventh-straight gold medal.
Black Sticks 1 (Hayden Phillips 31’)
Kookaburras 3 (Blake Govers 11’, Tom Wickham 18’, Jeremy Hayward 19’)
@ National Hockey Centre, Auckland
9. Jacob Anderson, 23. Daniel Beale, 10. Josh Beltz, 29. Tim Brand, 30. Andrew Charter (GK), 2.Tom Craig, 6. Matthew Dawson, 7. Nathan Ephraums, 13.Blake Govers, 32. Jeremy Hayward, 16. Tim Howard, 19. Craig Marais, 14. Dylan Martin, 11. Eddie Ockenden (C), 22. Flynn Ogilvie, 18. Ben Rennie (GK), 15. Josh Simmonds, 5. Tom Wickham, 17. Aran Zalewski