Two final quarter goals saw Argentina spoil the homecoming of local stars Eddie Ockenden, Josh Beltz and Jack Welch as the South Americans defeated the Kookaburras 4-2 in a penalty shootout in their FIH Pro League match in Hobart.
The Kookaburras had control of the first half, with newly inked captain Jeremy Hayward slamming home two penalty corner goals with aplomb inside eight minutes.
After emerging from the main break with intent, Hayward was denied his hat-trick in the 34th minute before the Kookaburras found themselves on the back foot.
Argentina fired a warning on Kookaburras goalkeeper Johan Durst’s goal in the 42nd minute when Matias Rey struck the crossbar with a venomous penalty corner flick.
The visiting skipper then brought his side back into the contest with an unstoppable set piece rebound in the 49th minute.
Durst was under siege and made important back-to-back saves to protect the Kookaburras’ advantage, only to see Tobias Martins equalise in the 54th minute.
The Kookaburras responded to the challenge late on, forcing Argentina to negotiate a late penalty corner effort from Hayward before Lachlan Sharp saw his back post effort slide narrowly wide at the death.
In the shootout, it was the Argentineans who claimed the bonus point when Augustin Bugallo converted the decisive attempt to secure the 4-2 shootout victory.
“To get to 2-0 was really positive and we were doing some things right but to concede a two goal lead is disappointing,” said Beltz.
“These are quality games and opponents you get in the Pro League, so we’ll take any opportunity to play in front a home crowd. We’ll recover and look to go again tomorrow.”
The Kookaburras return to take on Spain at 7pm AEDT tomorrow.
Kookaburras 2 (Hayward 15’/23’)
Argentina 2 (Rey 49’, Martins 34’)
Argentina wins shootout 4-2
@ Tasmanian Hockey Centre
Kookaburras: 1.Lachlan Sharp, 2.Tom Craig, 4.Jake Harvie, 6.Matthew Dawson, 7.Nathan Ephraums, 8.Johan Durst (gk), 9.Jacob Anderson, 10.Josh Beltz, 11.Eddie Ockenden, 13.Blake Govers, 14.Dylan Martin, 16.Tim Howard, 17.Aran Zalewski, 19.Craig Marais, 20.Ky Willott, 21.Jack Welch, 32.Jeremy Hayward (c)
Unused substitute: 18.Ben Rennie (gk)