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Black Sticks battle to rare home win

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 20/11/2016
Stephen Jenness © AFP PHOTO / Manan Vatsyayana Stephen Jenness

The Black Sticks have battled to their first home win over Australia in nearly 50 years with a 2-1 victory in the third and final trans-Tasman men's hockey in Auckland.

The Kookaburras won the first two Tests 4-2 and 2-1 to secure a 2-1 series win, but the young Black Sticks team showed plenty of fight to record their first win over Australia on New Zealand soil since 1967.

The Kiwis showed good strength on the ball early on, and were able to build pressure right through the opening quarter.

They used the width of the field well, with Stephen Jenness and Leo Mitai-Wells combining well in creating a couple of sharp chances.

It took only three minutes for the Kiwis to open their account, Jenness guiding the deflection home for his second goal of the series and his 61st in the black shirt.

Australia's timing through the midfield was off, and they struggled to get in behind the Kiwi defence, but they slowly worked their way back into the match through the second quarter.

Striker Trent Mitton's pace and creativity continued to trouble the New Zealand defence, and his combination with Josh Pollard came close to securing the equaliser five minutes into the third quarter.

Strong defensive midfield pressure continued to generate turnover ball for the Australians into the final 15 minutes but it was the Kiwis who found the net two minutes into the last quarter.

Harry Miskimmin fired a searching ball from out wide into the circle, finding Sam Lane momentarily unmarked and the 19-year-old striker slammed home a powerful reverse shot to double New Zealand's lead.

It took barely a minute for the Kookaburras to reduce the deficit, Jeremy Hayward finally finding the mark with a stinging drag-flick from yet another penalty corner.

The final five minutes were a hectic blur for the Kiwis as Australia pulled their keeper in favour of an extra man up front, pressuring without success right to the final whistle.

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