A clinical Australian attack has put 5 goals on the Black Sticks Men in a tough loss against a disciplined and highly skilled Australian Men’s side. The Black Sticks started the match confidently as they looked to earn their first win of the FIH Pro League. Australia withstood a number of chances from the Black Sticks Men throughout the contest to put their attack in a strong position in the match.
Coach Darren Smith commented after the performance “Australia played the match with a lot of control. We had a number of significant opportunities ourselves in the match including having 6 penalty corners. If we had been able to take some of those opportunities, then the match result could have been a lot different”.
Black Sticks Captain Arun Panchia commented “We had to try some different things tonight, but Australia was up what we could throw at them tonight”.
The Black Sticks Men lined up on a rainy Sydney day for an important match against the second placed Australia Men. The New Zealand side which was missing a few key players would be looking to bounce back from their tough loss the previous week to Argentina.
Australia started the game confidently looking to play the ball around the back of the field to open up the wide channels and put the kiwi defence under a lot of pressure. The New Zealand team earned the first penalty corner of the match when Aidan Sarikaya was able to find an Australian foot in the defensive circle. Australia ran down the Nic Woods flick to keep the score at nil all. Both squads were looking to hold possession and play the ball from side to side to open up potential gaps in the opposition defensive line. Late in the first quarter the Australian side was able to string some passes in the circle together and flick the ball past Richard Joyce for the first goal of the match. Almost instantly after Australia scored their first goal, they earned themselves a penalty corner. Jeremy Hayward stepped in and flicked a low hard shot which beat the New Zealand defence to put Australia ahead 2-0. Late in the first quarter the New Zealand earned themselves a penalty corner. Cory Bennett’s initial drag flick was saved, Hayden Phillips found the rebound on the end of his stick and he slotted home a forehand shot to get a goal back for the New Zealand team.
Australia started the second quarter in the best possible fashion when they managed to find a Black Sticks foot on a crash ball into the circle. Richard Joyce was able to scramble and make some crucial saves for the New Zealand side to keep the score at 2-1. Australia continued to use their midfield to initiate some quick breaks against the New Zealand team. Lachlan Sharpe created some space dancing through several kiwi defenders and put his shot off the cross bar as the Black Sticks survived the Australian onslaught. With eight minutes to go in the first half Australia was relentless as they created several goal scoring opportunities, the New Zealand defence was up to the task ensuring that the score remained 2-1. Late in the second quarter on the back of some Hayden Phillips creative dribbling the Black Sticks earned a penalty corner. Off the subsequent penalty corner Shea McAleeses deflection sailed just wide of the goal. Australia bounced instantly back from the kiwi pressure when an unmarked Jack Welch rocketed a shot past Richard Joyce to put Australia in the lead 3-1. The kiwi side went into the half time sheds needing a big second half push to get themselves back into the contest.
Opening the second half Australia played the ball wide and found an open player in the circle who slapped the ball between George Enersen’s legs to increase Australias lead 4-1. New Zealand managed to earn a penalty corner when young striker Mac Wilcox spun in the circle finding an Australian foot. The subsequent penalty corner saw a break down at the top of the circle and the kiwi side was unable to get a good shot off. Daniel Beale put pressure on Shea McAleese and picked his pocket for a one on one with the goal keeper that he managed to convert on the tomahawke past George Enersen. As the quarter wore on both sides were looking to construct opportunities but neither side was able to capitalise and the score at the end of three quarters was 5-1.
Australia started the fourth quarter finding a New Zealand foot in the circle earning themselves the first penalty corner of the final quarter. George Enersen made a fantastic stick save off Jeremy Haywards drag flick from the penalty corner. The Australian side continued to control the match playing with a lot of possession and territory and continue to have the Black Sticks team under significant pressure. George Enersen was proving to be a rock in goal in the final quarter for the Black Sticks as he looked to keep the Australian side from increasing their lead. With two minutes to go in the quarter the Black Sticks earned another penalty corner after Australia was unable to keep the ball down. Australian goalkeeper Tyler Lovell stands up tall and pulls off a routine glove save. The Black Sticks could not find their way back into the match and ended up falling to the Australian team 5-1.
Vantage Black Sticks1 (Hayden Phillips 14 min) Australia5 (Tom Wickham 12, 32 min, Jeremy Hayward 14 min, Jack Welch 25 min, Daniel Beale 38 min). HT: 1-3.