Hockey: Black Sticks eye Oceania Cup

A draw yesterday has the Black Sticks in control of their series against Australia. Photo / Getty Images
A draw yesterday has the Black Sticks in control of their series against Australia. Photo / Getty Images

The New Zealand men's Black Sticks drew 3-3 with Australia in Hobart yesterday, leaving the Kookaburras with a massive challenge to win the Oceania Cup.

The scoreline was replicated in the women's clash, as Australia recovered a 3-1 half time deficit to draw 3-3.

The Kookaburras were unable to break away from the determined Black Sticks who were able to equalise each time the hosts hit the front.

As the Black Sticks won the first game of the tournament 3-0, their first win against Australia since 1998, the Kookaburras must win today's decider by more than three goals to retain the Oceania Cup.

Pleasingly for the home side, star players Mark Knowles and Jamie Dwyer both hit the scoreboard in their second game back from serious injuries but coach Ric Charlesworth said his world No 1 side made too many defensive errors.

"We were in a position to win the game today and we were simply not good enough to do so," he said.

"I think we gave a couple of soft goals and you can't ever afford to do that, and we still need to finish better.

"There were some things we did better, but I don't think there's suddenly going to be a shift. They're a quality team and we're below par."

The Black Sticks women were lucky to keep their Oceania Cup hopes alive after weathering a torrid last 20 minutes to draw 3-3 with Australia. The Black Sticks will need to win by two goals in their final game today if they are to win the series after they were beaten in the first test on Thursday 2-1.

Clinical finishing from penalty corners ensured the Black Sticks went into half time with a handy 3-1 lead over the Hockeyroos but they needed to scramble on defence late in the second spell to avoid defeat.

The Black Sticks got on the scoreboard in the 10th minute with a clinical conversion by Gemma Flynn from a penalty corner. A second penalty corner one minute later saw Sam Harrison score following a goal-mouth scramble to take a 2-0 lead. Australia pegged one back after the ball took a deflection on the Hockeyroos' third penalty corner but Anita Punt scored with 10 minutes left in the first half with a slick shot following a great penetrating run by Stacey Michelsen to give the Black Sticks a handy halftime lead.

The Australians scored from a penalty corner 15 minutes into the second half.

A soft yellow card to Black Sticks captain Kayla Sharland with 10 minutes remaining resulted in the Kiwis dropping to 10 players and the Hockeyroos made the most of it to level the scores.

Coach Mark Hager said he was happy with the penalty corner conversion rate but basic errors allowed Australia to get on top in the second half.

If the finals game is drawn, Australia will win the series on goal difference. If the Black Sticks win by one goal, extra time will be played to determine the winner.


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