The Black Sticks Men played out a hotly contested 1-1 draw against world-number-one Australia in the second and final match of their Easter Test series in Perth last night.
Despite a strong start from Australia, the Black Sticks found themselves ahead after just eight minutes when Kane Russell struck from New Zealand’s second penalty corner. Later in the half the Kookaburras took advantage when the Black Sticks were temporarily reduced to ten men shortly before half time. With Kiwi Andy Hayward off the pitch, Eddie Ockenden set up the chance for Glenn Turner to level the score, pouncing to capitalise and knock the ball home for 1-1. A blistering end-to-end second half saw both sides enjoy good opportunities to score.
It was a big game for captain Dean Couzins who played his 300th test and is now one of only two Kiwis (Phil Burrows) to have ever reached the significant milestone. “Dean had a great game tonight – he led the defence well, and the team are pleased they were able to put in a good performance for him,” said Batch.
“I thought it was a pretty evenly contested game overall. It was just really pleasing to improve our performance from the first match – it was a much closer test,” said head coach Colin Batch.
“We did a good job of limiting their goal scoring opportunities and creating chances ourselves. We are playing with confidence which is pleasing to see. To have these two tests against Australia is ideal preparation ahead of the Champions Challenge. We are now looking forward to heading to Malaysia and doing some further training over there before the tournament gets underway,” said Batch.
Source: Hockey NZBack