10 Apr 2015

Australia down Black Sticks

11:27 am on 10 April 2015

The New Zealand men's hockey team have suffered their first loss at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia.

The Black Sticks captain Simon Child.

The Black Sticks captain Simon Child. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Black Sticks were beaten 3-1 by arch-rivals Australia last night, their first defeat in four games at the tournament.

New Zealand were well in the contest for most of the game, but the Kookaburras were able to build themselves a handy buffer with three goals in the second quarter.

The Black Sticks created plenty of scoring opportunities throughout the match but were only able to score once after Andy Hayward converted from a penalty stroke.

The result guarantees Australia a spot in the final while the world No.7-ranked New Zealanders will look to assure themselves a spot in the title match with a win or draw against Korea in their final round robin game tomorrow (Saturday) night.

Black Sticks coach Colin Batch said while the result wasn't what they had hoped for, it was pleasing to be able to keep the game so close against the world number one side.

"We had a really good first quarter and created some excellent scoring chances that we unfortunately weren't able to convert," he said.

"Australia responded very strongly in the second quarter but it was pleasing to be able to come back into the game after half-time and still be in with a chance."

"Our focus now is on preparing well for Korea on Saturday, we need to get a result there to make sure we are playing for a shot at the title."

The Black Sticks were off to an impressive start, earning the first penalty corner of the night inside the opening five minutes but unable to convert.

Dylan Wotherspoon opened the scoring for Australia with a 17th minute field goal, with Jamie Dwyer also beating goalkeeper Devon Manchester and then Jeremy Hayward rounding out the second quarter trifecta with a penalty corner drag flick.

Despite being down by three goals at half-time, New Zealand lifted after the break and held the Kookaburras to a goalless second half.

The Black Sticks were awarded a stroke three minutes into the third quarter when a shot at goal bounced off a defender's shin guard just outside the goal mouth.

Hayward obliged with a strong flick just beating the goalkeeper's pads to put New Zealand on the scoreboard.

Neither side was able to find the back of the goal in the final 27 minutes of the game thanks to some solid defensive work.

The Black Sticks have a rest day today ahead of their final round robin clash against Korea at 10pm Saturday night (NZ time).

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