The Vantage Black Sticks Women have taken the first match in their series with Australia from Rockhampton. The match was played at an incredibly high pace as both sides looked to build some attacking sequences and put themselves in the box seat for the match.
The first quarter between the Vantage Black Sticks Women and the Hockeyroos got underway with both sides looking to play attacking hockey. The Kiwis constructed several opportunities as they looked to unsettle the Australians early in the match. After the first quarter the two sides were still level despite both sides having some close scoring opportunities.
Australia started the second quarter in a positive fashion when they earned a penalty corner, off the resulting corner the ball struck Brooke Neal’s foot causing a penalty stroke. Grace O’Hanlon picked the stroke masterfully to deny the Australians the chance to go into the lead. The Vantage Black Sticks Women then earned a penalty of their own on the back of some enterprising play. Megan Hull stepped up and swept the subsequent penalty corner into the goal. As the second quarter wore on the New Zealand side continued to press hard as they looked to extend their lead over the highly ranked Australian team.
The second half continued where the first half finished with some highly entertaining end to end hockey. The Vantage Black Sticks went close on several occasions when their press managed to force the Australian defence into turnovers. Late in the third quarter the Black Sticks Women extended their lead after Megan Hull pulled off a deceptive sweep for an Amy Robinson diving deflection. Moments later Stacey Michelsen broke down the field and ripped an incredible tomohawke to put the Vantage Black Sticks up 3-0.
Heading into the final quarter the Vantage Black Sticks were playing with confidence and looking to hold off the fast finishing Australians who were playing fast and aggressively as they searched to get back into the match. The Hockeyroos turned the pressure into an outcome with minutes to go when a Georgina Morgan flick squeezed inside the post. The New Zealand team held on to take the first match in the three-test series.
The teams will next take to the turf on Saturday evening for match two of the Oceania Cup.
Vantage Black Sticks 3 (Megan Hull 20 min, Amy Robinson 42 min, Stacey Michelsen 43 min)
Hockeyroos 1 (Georgina Morgan 54 min)