The Kookaburras have run away with the Oceania Cup against the Vantage Black Sticks Men. Needing to win the match by five goals the New Zealand side were always going to have their backs up against the wall. Australia took the lead early and kept the pressure on the Kiwis throughout the contest as they would come away 3-0 victors.
The Vantage Black Sticks Men met the world number one Kookaburras in match three of the Oceania Cup in Rockhampton. The New Zealand Men came out aggressively and were looking to attack the Australian defence with pace. The Kookaburras managed to open the scoring against the run of play when Richard Joyce struggled to clear the ball from the circle and Tim Brand was able to flick the ball back in over Joyce’s shoulder. The Australians then extended their lead when the New Zealand penalty corner defence couldn’t stop a well-placed Blake Govers drag flick.
The Kiwis changed their goalkeeper at the beginning of the second quarter and George Enersen was called on instantly to pull off some massive saves to keep the Australians out of the net and stop them from extending their lead. The New Zealand team was being pressed aggressively by the Kookaburras and were struggling to clear their defensive zone. As the quarter wore on the Kiwis managed to construct some opportunities, the Australians were resolute on defence to keep their lead in tact heading into the second half.
The second half started in the same fashion that the first one finished with both teams playing some outstanding end to end attacking hockey. The Kookaburras were clinical on defence and were stifling every attacking opportunity that the Kiwis were creating. With three minutes to go in the third quarter and Australia being reduced to 10 men Black Sticks Coach Darren Smith pulled George Enersen to give the side a two man overlap in the hopes of finding a goal to get themselves back into the contest. Despite creating several attacking chances, the Kookaburras stayed calm to keep themselves up 2-0.
As the final quarter wore on the Black Sticks continued to attack with speed, however the Australians were rock solid on defence and wouldn’t allow the New Zealand side any space to construct any significant chances. Blake Govers sealed the win for the Kookaburras with a rocket drag-flick with two minutes to go to put Australia up 3-0.
Vantage Black Sticks Men 0
Kookaburras 3 (Tim Brand 11 min, Blake Govers 14, 58 min)
(C) - Photography Andrew Blanchard