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Aussies finish too strong for Black Sticks

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 17/11/2016

Stephen Jenness set up the first goal for New Zealand, but his efforts proved in vain. © Joel Ford/Getty Images Stephen Jenness set up the first goal for New Zealand, but his efforts proved in vain. A fighting final quarter has earned Australia a 4-2 win over New Zealand in the first men's hockey Test in Auckland.

The Kookaburras went behind twice at Lloyd Elsmore Park on Thursday, but battled through pouring rain in the last quarter to secure the win.

The two teams had last met in pool play at the Rio Olympics, with the Kookaburras taking a 2-1 win.

Thursday's game was equally tight, a fast-moving and entertaining affair which lit up early when experienced Kiwi striker Stephen Jenness rounded a trio of Australian defenders then flicked high over keeper Tyler Lovell to open the scoring.

The Australians hit back in the second quarter, Aaron Kleinschmidt scoring on debut after strong work at close quarters from Daniel Beale and Dylan Wotherspoon .

Two Black Sticks rookies in Dominic Newman and Kim Kingstone combined to give New Zealand the 2-1 lead they took into the halftime break.

Barely a minute after Beale - one of only two Rio Olympians in the Kookaburras side - had fired wide in front of an open goal, the Kiwis countered quickly.

Nineteen-year-old Newman showed good strength on the baseline before firing in the cross for Kingstone to deflect in.

Australia equalised through a Trent Mitton strike from close range in the third quarter, then took the lead with 10 minutes remaining when Aran Zalewski smashed home Beale's perfect pull-back from the base line.

The Kookaburras had the final say three minutes from full-time, Jeremy Hayward's drag flick from the first penalty corner of the game sealing the Australian win.

The second Test in the three-match series is in Auckland on Saturday.

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