ANZAC DAY AGONY FOR BLACK STICKS
Australia women came back from behind with two late goals to take a 2-1 victory in the first match of the ANZAC Day double header. A sold out crowd was witness to an exciting match of hockey that could have gone either way.
New Zealand were markedly improved from their performance against Great Britain on Sunday and will be heartened by the increase in passing precision and goal scoring opportunities.
It was a strong start for the Vantage Black Sticks women as they created a chance in the opening minute. It was a sign of things to come in the first quarter for the Kiwis who dominated the ball, after soaking up a couple of minutes of Australian pressure.
First time captain Olivia Shannon opened up the scoring for New Zealand, deflecting in a penalty corner in the sixth minute. Australia managed a golden opportunity at the end of the first quarter only to be denied by an excellent Grace O’Hanlon save.
The Hockeyroos came out of the quarter break with a hiss and roar intent on drawing level. The Black Sticks defence held and from then most of the second period was a back and forth affair with both teams creating circle entries only to find themselves crowded by the defence.
New Zealand dominated the beginning of the third period but were stifled by some resilient defence which gave the Australians a good foundation from which to attack. They were duly rewarded early in the fourth quarter with Maddison Brooks scoring an incredible long distance goal that keeper Brooke Roberts could do nothing about.
Both teams continued to press, hoping to avoid a penalty shootout, and it was Australia who managed to take the lead from a rather fortunate situation. Roberts brilliantly saved a shot Abigail Wilson who fell and managed to catch her stick on the rebounding ball to loop it into the back of the net.
In the second match of the day the Kookaburras could hardly miss with their penalty corners.
Much like the Black Sticks women, the men found some improvement in open play from the weekend match against Great Britain. Despite the scoreline they were defensively more sound and created some decent opportunities.
Australia opened the scoring early on when they won a penalty corner with Aussie wonderkid, Joel Rintala, scoring his first international goal with an absolute rocket into the back of the net.
The Kiwis held firm for the rest of the quarter, limiting Australian chances and creating counter-attacks of their own despite having a minority of possession.
The second quarter was all Australia who dominated territory and possession. They won a further two penalty corners, both converted by Rintala to give him a first half hat-trick.
The second half was a much tighter affair with New Zealand able to dictate the tempo a little more. The Black Sticks were defensively tighter, not conceding another penalty corner until late in the fourth when they were down two men to yellow card infringements.
They also found more of a groove offensively with a number of circle entries, but were ultimately undone by some imprecise final passes.
Both Vantage Black Sticks teams will look to grab a win this weekend with the men taking on Great Britain on Friday, the women taking on Great Britain on Saturday, and both teams taking on Australia on Sunday.
- April 25th, 2023 in