Sport Two late goals save Kookaburras against New Zealand

Two late goals save Kookaburras against New Zealand

A late Tom Wickham goal clinched a 3-1 trans-Tasman hockey win for the Kookaburras over New Zealand. Photo: AAP
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The world No.2 Kookaburras have scored two goals in the final four minutes to escape with a 3-1 win over New Zealand in their trans-Tasman series opener in Palmerston North.

Australia dominated Thursday’s match but had to wait until midway through the third quarter to open the scoring through Tim Brand.

The Black Sticks struggled to create clear-cut opportunities, but it was game on when 19-year-old debutant Sean Findlay scored with less than seven minutes remaining to level it at 1-1.

The Kookaburras entered the match having only ever lost twice to the Black Sticks – in 2011 and 2016 – and they were desperate to avoid a third defeat to their world No.8 rivals.

Goals to Kookaburras duo Trent Mitton and Tom Wickham in the dying minutes sealed the win.

Mitton scored from a simple tap-in after substitute NZ goalkeeper George Enersen had made two sharp saves.

And Wickam sealed the deal with 44 seconds remaining with a sharp strike from close range.

Daniel Beale, who set up the third goal, also assisted the first, where his no look pass was deflected in by Brand.

“We’re just pleased to be here. It was awesome to be back on the field,” Kookaburras captain Eddie Ockenden told Sky Sports.

“We did OK in the second half, so a good start.

“We’ve been training for a long time, so to play an international match is good. The tempo was a big step up from training, which is good and it’s why we’re here.”

NZ captain Blair Tarrant was forced off in the opening minutes after copping a ball to the face.

Tarrant was stitched up, but he failed to return.

Australia dominated the opening term with five-shots-to-nil, but NZ goalkeeper Leon Hayward came up with the goods time and again to deny the visitors.

After 446 days had passed since the Kookaburras’ last international, the frustrations continued to build during the scoreless second quarter.

The goals flowed more freely in the second half, with the Kookaburras lifting late to seal the win.

Game two of the four-match series will be held on Friday.

Hockeyroos held 1-1 by New Zealand

Australia’s Jane Claxton battles for possession with NZ’s Elizabeth Thompson. Photo: AAP

The Hockeyroos ended their 446-day stint in the international wilderness and months of off-field dramas with a 1-1 draw against New Zealand in Palmerston North.

The world No.4 Hockeyroos took the lead late in the second quarter of Thursday’s trans-Tasman clash when Rosie Malone slammed home a powerful strike.

The Black Sticks hit back in stunning fashion in the final term, with Olivia Shannon deflecting a pass through her own legs and in for a goal.

The Hockeyroos had a chance to win the game in the dying minutes, but NZ goalkeeper Grace O’Hanlon was able to keep out a goal-mouth scrap just as Emily Chalker was about to pounce.

Coach Katrina Powell has been thrust into the hot seat before the Olympics, and her team was rusty early on in her first game in charge.

“It was a bit of a shaky start from our end,” stand-in Hockeyroos skipper Jane Claxton told Sky Sports.

“It was our first game in 446 days. We’re definitely still getting used to that international speed.

“Once we got the nerves out of the way, we started playing more of our style and felt more comfortable out there.”

Game two of the four-match series will be held on Friday.