Sport Kookaburras sweep series against New Zealand with 5-1 win
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Kookaburras sweep series against New Zealand with 5-1 win

Tom Wickham netted twice for the Kookaburras in a 5-1 victory over New Zealand on Tuesday. Photo: AAP
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The world No.2 Kookaburras have made it a 4-0 series sweep against New Zealand after posting a crushing 5-1 win in the final match.

The Kookaburras scored two goals in the opening term to set up Tuesday’s win in Palmerston North, with the thumping display a positive sign ahead of the upcoming Olympics.

Australian forward Tom Wickham starred with two goals, including a spectacular diving deflection in the final quarter.

The world No.8 Black Sticks were on the back foot for most of the match and posed few problems aside from a second-quarter penalty.

The teams will continue their Olympic preparations when they lock horns in a two-match series in Perth in late June.

“We take a lot out of this,” Kookaburras skipper Eddie Ockenden told Sky Sports.

“It’s been a long 15 months without playing, so to be able to come here and play some games was really awesome.

“There’s still lots of work to do and it’s really exciting times. It was a bit of a scrap. It’s two pretty hard teams going at it.

“Knocking in those goals makes a massive difference.”

The Kookaburras made a lightning start to Tuesday’s match, with Nathan Ephraums opening the scoring in the third minute when he put his body on the line to deflect in a powerful strike from Tim Brand.

Wickham made it 2-0 when he pounced on a blocked shot to squeeze the ball in for a goal.

The Black Sticks hit back when Sam Hiha was bundled over in the circle and Shea McAleese converted the penalty.

But it was all one-way traffic from there as the Kookaburras scored three goals in the final term.

Jeremy Hayward started the blitz with a rocket from a penalty corner and five minutes later Jacob Anderson flicked the ball over the keeper after a penalty corner was saved.

Wickham added the cherry on top by diving full length to deflect the ball in with just minutes remaining.

The Kookaburras scored 15 goals across the Trans-Tasman series and conceded just four.

“It was a frustrating day the way we finished the game,” NZ captain Blair Tarrant said.

“I think we took it to them a bit more today. We had opportunities to get it to 2-2, but we didn’t quite take it.”

-AAP