The Kookaburras have suffered a shock 3-0 defeat at the hands of New Zealand in game one of the Oceania Cup at the Tasmanian Hockey Centre in Hobart.
The New Zealanders, who had not defeated Australia since 1998, capitalised on their limited scoring opportunities to take at 1-0 series lead.
It was Australia who did the majority of attacking, putting the New Zealand defence under the pump early with some energetic circle penetrations.
However it was New Zealand who dealt the first blow in the 8th minute after Hugo Inglis turned the ball over deep in the Australian defensive half and put away a magnificent reverse stick strike that went high into the net.
The Kookaburras responded to the scoreboard pressure and dominated possession to create multiple scoring chances but to no prevail.
Pacey Kookaburra midfielder Simon Orchard looked dangerous on several occasions and despite the amount of possession the Australians could not find the back of the net.
New Zealand goalkeeper Kyle Pontifex was outstanding for the Blacksticks as the Kookaburras continued to apply pressure through circle penetrations and multiple penalty corners.
The Blacksticks too had their chances to increase their lead, catching the Australian defence off guard on the counter attack on several occasions.
After the break, the Australians continued to apply pressure to the New Zealand defence.
Pontifex was again up to the challenge however, making several desperate on the line saves to deny the Australians any scoreboard presence.
Orchard continued to stream through the middle of the pitch to create more opportunities and the Kookaburras were awarded penalty corners for their efforts but they failure to convert resulted in frustration.
New Zealander were able to break through the Kookaburra defence and force their first penalty corner in the 57th minute which resulted in a Andy Haywood goal to sink the hearts of the Kookaburras.
The frustration in the Australians showed in the final ten minutes and New Zealand were able to drive forward with confidence.
Forcing their second penalty corner, Haywood was again able to convert in the 63rd minute to give the Blacksticks a historic 3-0 win.
Kookaburras coach Ric Charlesworth said he was disappointed in his side’s ability to finish in the circle and utilise the opportunities created but admitted there was no need to panic and no radical changes needed to be made.
“When a side scores 100% of their penalty corners they are going to be tough to beat”, Charlesworth said.
“We had our chances and unfortunately could not finish.
“Today we had players whose skill level wasn’t quite up to it and had some errors at the back.
“We will work on the small things and pay some attention to our penalty corners to improve on our performances in the coming matches”.
Source: Hockey Australia Media Release
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