The Vantage Black Sticks Men have fought out a tough 2-2 draw with the Kookaburras in game two of the Oceania Cup from Rockhampton. The result sets up a must win final match for the Vantage Black Sticks Men as they look to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games.
Vantage Black Sticks Captain Blair Tarrant staid after the match “We got the draw and its all on for tomorrows match as we look to bring home the Oceania Cup. We really focused on our midfield play and the boys in the midfield really stepped up tonight and did a great job for us”.
The Kookaburras started off the second match of the Oceania Cup the way they finished the first pushing hard against the Vantage Black Sticks Men. Despite a significant weight of possession and territory the New Zealand side was able to keep the Australians at bay in the first quarter as they showed a determination to stifle all the waves of Australian attack.
The Kookaburras steeped up the speed and pressure in the second quarter as they looked to break the game open. Blake Govers opened the scoring in the 5th minute of the match when Blake Govers was left open in the circle and flicked home the well-constructed goal. The Australians extended their lead a few minutes later when Tom Wickham deflected in a great ball in to send the Australians into the half time shed with a commanding 2-0 lead.
The New Zealand side came out in the second half with determination and speed. In the third minute Nic Woods drove down the baseline in the circle and found Jacob Smith open in the circle who deflected home the beautiful pass from Woods. The New Zealand side continued to press hard against the Kookaburras and were rewarded when Kane Russell slotted home a low powerful drag flick that beat Tyler Lovell to set up an exciting final match as the Kiwis were searching for the upset win.
The final quarter started off as an arm wrestle as both sides were looking to find space in behind the opposing teams defence. The midfield for both sides was carrying the ball forward with intensity, however neither side was able to construct any significant chances in the early part of the quarter. With three minutes to go the Vantage Black Sticks Men pulled their goalkeeper to try and score the needed win. Unfortunately, the Australians held on to put themselves in the box seat for heading into game three on Sunday evening.
Vantage Black Sticks Men 2 (Jacob Smith 32 min, Kane Russell 41 min)
Kookaburras 2 (Blake Govers 20 min, Tom Wickham 24 min)