A disappointed but not downcast Black Sticks coach Mark Hager was taking some positives from last night's 3-1 loss to Australia in their second game at the four-nations tournament at the North Harbour Hockey Stadium.
The determined Australians are, physiologically at least, back on top in their on-going battle with the Black Sticks but Hager was in a far happier frame of mind than he would have been had his team lost to India in a disappointing first-up effort.
The long-time transtasman rivals went into the match on the back of first-up wins and were level 1-1 at halftime following late first half goals before two unanswered goals after the break earned Australian their win ahead of Monday's final when they are likely to meet again.
Fiona Boyce gave Australia the lead after 33 minutes but that joy was short-lived as Katie Glynn, from a planned variation, fired a penalty corner drag flick into the top of the Australian goal a minute later.
On the hour the visitors regained the lead in a similar fashion when Jodie Schulz too scored with a drag flick. A second Boyce strike seven minutes from time sealed the Australian win and left the Black Sticks despairing.
"I thought we did okay but we let ourselves down with a couple of ill-disciplined errors," said Hager. "In conceding the first goal we did not cover the line and we were probably unlucky in having one of their penalty corners scored against us. That's a problem when you don't have the opportunity of a video referral.
"A lapse in concentration cost us the chance to equalise but overall I'm not too disappointed with the effort. It was certainly a big step up from a poor effort on the first night. It was one of those games where it would be a case of who would crack first. We did, but it was a tight game and we have to learn how to win in that situation."
In yesterday's early game India and the United States picked up their first points in playing out a 1-1 draw. Deepika gave the Indians the lead with a 23rd minute field goal. They held that advantage until three minutes from time when Katie O'Donnell replied in a like manner to secure the American's point.
After a break today, Australia meet India in tomorrow's early game while New Zealand play the US in the late game.
Australia 3 (Fiona Boyce 2, Jodie Schulz) New Zealand 1 (Katie Glynn). HT: 1-1.
India 1 (Deepika) United States 1 (Katie O'Donnell). HT: 1-0.