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Australia Hockeyroos beat Black Sticks 2-1 to claim trans-Tasman title

At National Hockey Centre, Auckland: Australia 2 (Rebecca Greiner 23min, Brooke Peris 33min) New Zealand 1 (Megan Hull 13min). HT: 1-1

The Black Sticks women couldn’t defend an early lead when they suffered a 2-1 loss to Australia’s Hockeyroos in Auckland on Sunday.

Despite leading 1-0 after the first quarter, thanks to a goal by striker Megan Hull off a penalty corner, the New Zealanders eventually wilted against the Australians’ clinical control and power at the National Hockey Centre.

Megan Hull of New Zealand celebrates her goal in the first quarter. Despite Hull's early effort the Kiwis couldn’t prevent Australia surging back to win 2-1 to claim a 2-1 series victory.

Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.

Megan Hull of New Zealand celebrates her goal in the first quarter. Despite Hull’s early effort the Kiwis couldn’t prevent Australia surging back to win 2-1 to claim a 2-1 series victory.

The victory ensured the Australians won the four-game trans-Tasman series 2-1 after both teams were compromised by illness and injury during the tournament. The loss also means the New Zealanders have not beaten the Aussies in 14 attempts since September 2019.

The physical New Zealanders made the perfect start when Hull opened the scoring, late in the first quarter.

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Despite Australia dominating from the outset, the New Zealanders defended diligently – especially goalkeeper Brooke Roberts – before striking back after an excellent break by striker Deanna Ritchie, which culminated in the penalty corner that led to Hull’s crisp sweep for the second goal of her international career.

Australia continued to be relentless when pouncing on opportunities, and finally breached the defence when Rebecca Greiner dribbled past Roberts near the goal mouth in the second quarter.

The Kiwis remained resolute when protecting the defensive circle and at halftime the score was locked-up 1-1.

Australia then lifted their attack up a gear, with the experienced Brooke Peris embarking on a long run prior to controlling the ball and lobbing it over New Zealand replacement goalkeeper Grace O’Hanlon to give the visitors a 2-1 lead.

Several minutes later O’Hanlon did well to block two rockets fired by the Aussies, but as fatigue set in the New Zealanders struggled to match the tempo and by the end of the third quarter had been forced to defend five penalty corners.

In an attempt to the snatch a goal in the final four minutes, Black Sticks coach Darren Smith took O’Hanlon off the park so his team would have 11 outfield players.

Although they kept a clean sheet in O’Hanlon’s absence, the Black Sticks couldn’t do enough to hold possession and threaten their opponent’s goal.

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Krzysztof Stanowicz

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