A debatable goal proved the difference in Australia's 2-1 pool victory against New Zealand at the Commonwealth Games.

Cory Bennett drilled a shot home from a penalty corner with 90 seconds remaining, but Australia's defence held after Jacob Whetton and Trent Mitton slotted earlier attempts.

Regardless, both teams have qualified for the semi-finals and will play either England or India.

The first half moved at a frenetic pace with individuals' fitness tested to capacity. Players gave their best Road Runner impressions whirring across the turf.

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New Zealand demonstrated slick stick work and passing accuracy, but struggled to prod or puncture the Australian defence.

The world No.1s' modus operandi was characterised by a constant "reset, reset" call from their defence as they endeavoured to bring shape and control to their game. New Zealand earned five penalty corners but could not convert.

The cadence relented, albeit slightly, in the latter stanzas as exhaustion loomed.

New Zealand goalkeeper Richard Joyce and captain Arun Panchia debated the call for the opening goal. They were concerned the ball had not travelled five metres off a free hit before it went in the circle.

Black Sticks coach Darren Smith said they were trying to get the umpire to review it.

"I think he should [in such circumstances], because we're playing some big hockey here.

"It's Australia-New Zealand and we're at the Commonwealth Games, a couple of teams going at it, and there is a high chance it didn't go five metres.

"We were a wee bit disappointed with that. But, in the end, the second goal took it away from us."

A match highlight was the grave music which reverberated when a video review was called. It sounded like strains from a James Bond film before the MI6 agent extracts himself from a spot of trouble. The organisers should take a bow.

One instance came after Shea McAleese stopped a penalty corner with his horizontal stick in the 14th minute. The shock must have gone through his hands like an electric current, but he held firm.

Hugo Inglis got close to scoring for New Zealand in the second quarter when a penalty corner deflected off Australian goalkeeper Andrew Charter. Inglis pushed it left but dribbled with alacrity throughout.

New Zealand held their nerve again some abrasive attack in the first period.

The hosts had four shots on goal but the Black Sticks were relentless keeping the ball clear of the net.

The best examples came from three penalty corners when McAleese, Dane Lett, Nic Woods and captain Panchia donned their extra protective gear to join Joyce in warding off the inevitable missiles.

Elsewhere, Kane Russell averted a difficult situation in the third minute when a ball was weaved within two metres of the right post.

"It was a typical Australia-New Zealand battle; lots of physicality, pace and attack," Panchia said.

"They are disciplined, swarm well [on defence] and make it tough. You don't tend to get as much time as against other teams."

Smith said either semi-final opponent would be a challenge.

"It's not like we are going to find a bunny waiting for us. This was a chance to get a bit of acid and pressure [into our campaign] and Australia always provide that."

The Black Sticks men secured silver at Manchester in 2002 and bronze at Delhi in 2010 since hockey's debut in 1998.