Despite a strong finish, the Black Sticks Men have been narrowly beaten 1-0 by Australia at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia.
It was a determined performance from the Kiwis who played a strong defensive game against the world number one ranked side in blistering 36 degree heat.
Down by one goal, the Black Sticks had the better of the Kookaburras in the second half and came painfully close to equalising on several occasions in the dying stages of the match.
The result sees New Zealand now with two wins, two draws and one loss at the tournament going into a must-win final match of round robin against India tomorrow at 8pm (NZ time).
Head coach Colin Batch said the end result was disappointing but there were a lot of positives to come out of the game.
“They took it to us in the first half and we had trouble breaking down their play but I thought we played very well defensively and limited them to just one goal,” he said.
“In the second half we saw the tide turn and had some strong circle penetrations, but we weren’t able to take advantage and that’s why they’re world number one.
“Overall it’s disappointing not to get the result but to be able to push the best in the world so closely is pleasing and shows that as a team we are really building in belief.”
The opening quarter had it all with yellow cards dished out to Simon Orchard and Jacob Smith, along with a disallowed goal for each side.
Australia’s Thomas Craig had his goal called back with the pass into the circle deemed dangerous before Nick Wilson took advantage of a free hit to the Kookaburras and scored, with captain Simon Child showing great sportsmanship to reject the goal after it was awarded.
The Black Sticks defended bravely throughout the first half, but after three repelled penalty corner attempts the Kookaburras finally found the back of the net when a loose ball went out for Jamie Dwyer to shoot into an open goal.
New Zealand created more circle penetrations than Australia in the third and fourth quarters and were left to rue several chances that could have equalised the score.
Goalkeeper Devon Manchester was subbed for an extra field player with four minutes left on the clock and the move paid off with the Black Sticks earning three penalty corners but unable to deliver a levelling blow.
– Story courtesy of TVNZ