(Photo: FIH / Getty Images)
Australia and New Zealand have played out an exciting 3-3 draw in game two of the Oceania Cup at the Tasmanian Hockey Centre in Hobart.
The draw means that the Australians have to defeat the Blacksticks by more than three goals in the final match tomorrow in order to take out the 2011 Oceania Cup.
The first half was an even contest and saw both sides have their chances up forward and with opposing goalkeepers forced to be amongst the action.
Australia was attacking with pace and purpose and they were able to put the early scoreboard pressure on after Mark Knowles put away a penalty corner rebound in the 7th minute to get the ball rolling for the Kookaburras.
From here on the opening half was an even mix of Australia looking dangerous through general possession and forward drive and New Zealand looking continually dangerous on the counter attack.
After the break it was New Zealand who came out with sparks flying and only forty seconds in, Simon Child was able to cut off an Australian pass out of defence to score a superb reverse stick goal from a tight angle to even things up in 36th minute.
The Kookaburras responded to the challenge thrown at them by the Blacksticks and were able to find the scoreboard two minutes later through a fluid build-up involving Matthew Butturini, Mark Knowles, Kieran Govers and Jamie Dwyer.
Dwyer was able to stay composed and squeeze the ball past the keeper in 38th minute to give the Kookaburras a 2-1 lead.
Both sides continued to press hard and there was fierce competition at every contest.
New Zealand forward Simon Childs was sparking alight the New Zealand forward line and his precise and powerful cross to Blair Hilton evened the game up once again at the 44th minute mark.
Kookaburra forward Jamie Dwyer was finding some touch in the midfield and a delicate deflection on his behalf set Australia into attack which resulted in a one on one between Russell Ford and the Blacksticks’ keeper.
Ford, receiving the ball on the top of the circle, dragged the ball onto his reverse and slotted the ball into the goals to give the Australians back the lead in the 48th minute.
The Blacksticks would not lie down and responded yet again after another classical build-up.
Blair Hopper trapped the ball magnificently on the run at left half and fed the ball to Phil Burrows who set up Nick Wilson on the spot, slapping the ball high into the net past the keeper to take the match to 3-3 in the 50th minute.
In a frantic final ten minutes, Jamie Dwyer continued to be lively up forward for Australia and Simon Child continued to look dangerous for the Blacksticks in their forward half.
It was end to end, entertaining hockey, with both sides attacking at pace but unable to break through with a winner.
Going right down to the wire, New Zealand earned a penalty corner with one minute to go but their attempt was saved by defender Mark Knowles.
Australia too had their chance and attacked the circle with 10 seconds to go but their effort went unrewarded and the game ended in a draw.
Kookaburras coach Ric Charlesworth was disappointed in his sides performance given they had the lead on several occasions.
‘We were in a position to win the match but simply were not good enough to do so”, Charlesworth said.
‘We gave away a couple of soft goals and we need to finish better.
‘We are playing against a quality opposition and we are below par at the moment.’
Oceania Cup 2011, Hobart (AUS) - Fixtures and Results
Times are local
Thursday 6th October 2011
Men: New Zealand v Australia 3-0
Women: Australia v New Zealand 2-1
Friday 7th October 2011
Saturday 8th October 2011
Women: New Zealand v Australia 3-3
Men: Australia v New Zealand - 3-3
Sunday 9th October 2011
Women - Australia v New Zealand - 1.00pm
Men - New Zealand v Australia - 3.30pm
All matches are being live streamed courtesy of the Hockey Australia website. For more information, pleaseclick here.
Source: Hockey Australia Media Release