The Hockeyroos have fallen 3-1 to Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand in slippery conditions on Sunday night at Sydney Olympic Park Hockey Centre.
Stormy weather threatened to delay the start of the match but that didn’t stop more than 1,700 fans from braving the tough conditions in the final FIH Pro League contest on Australian soil for 2019.
Australia struggled to adjust to the wet conditions throughout the match, allowing three goals to the New Zealanders through Olivia Merry (17’, 32’) and Amy Robinson (52’).
Though the play was quite even throughout the early part of the night, Australia struggled in front of goal with many of their ten shots firing across the face or being cut off by a tenacious New Zealand defence.
Savannah Fitzpatrick looked to have sparked Australia’s comeback when she hit the scoreboard in the 48th minute but the Black Sticks extinguished the Hockeyroos flame moments later with a Robinson match sealing goal.
“We’ve got to be able to finish, that’s the clear concern for us,” Hockeyroos Coach Paul Gaudoin said.
“We had a number of chances and we’re not putting them away. That’s giving the other teams opportunities.” Over 1,700 fans braved the tough conditions to watch the match.
Black Sticks Captain Stacey Michelsen was named Player of the Match.
Back-to-back losses to Argentina and New Zealand sees Australia fall to fourth in the FIH Pro League standings, the Black Sticks now sit in fifth place.
In a mark of respect to those affected by the devastating events in Christchurch on Friday, both sides came together and linked arms during a moments silence before the match.
The Hockeyroos next match is an ANZAC Day clash against New Zealand in Auckland.
The first term was a back-and-forth affair which saw both sides in attack mode.
A goal by Savannah Fitzpatrick in the 13th minute was overturned after the Black Sticks referred the play to the third umpire.
The second term started with a flurry of New Zealand circle entries, the most dangerous of which was stopped by Sophie Taylor on the last line of defence.
The Black Sticks didn’t have to wait long for another opportunity to hit the scoreboard, in the 17th minute of the match Merry was able to convert a penalty corner off of a slap variation.
Hockeyroos skipper Emily Chalker had a chance to even things up just before halftime, she intercepted a pass and pushed forward into a one-on-one situation with Grace O’Hanlon but was unable to beat New Zealand goalkeeper for a goal.
A fast start to the second half allowed New Zealand to hit the scoreboard first, again through Merry off an assist from Samantha Charlton.
In the 35th minute Edwina Bone had a chance to bring Australia back into the contest but her shot from ten metres out was thwarted by Sally Rutherford.
Holly Pearson was sent off with a yellow card at the conclusion of the third quarter, leaving New Zealand a player down for the start of the fourth.
A player up, Australia was able to take advantage of the card and hit the scoreboard trough Savannah Fitzpatrick in the 48th minute. She found herself close to goal and smashed a half-volley deflection into the backboard.
New Zealand answered from a penalty corner in the 52nd minute of the match, as first-runner, Bone deflected the initial dragflick which found its’ way to Robinson on the back post who guided it into the net.
Lily Brazel copped a ball to the face late in the match and was treated by medical staff on the pitch before being helped off.
In the dying minutes of the match Australia pulled Rachael Lynch from the field but the aggressive move didn’t yield any scoreboard results.
Australia 1 (S. Fitzpatrick 48’)
Argentina 3 (Merry 17’, 22’, Robinson 52’)