FIH Hockey Pro League action continued in Christchurch, New Zealand with the hosts taking on Australia in both women’s and men’s competition. Australia won both the encounters with the Hockeyroos mounting a final quarter comeback to take a 2-1 win, while the Kookaburras scored thrice in the first half through Joel Rintala and comfortably held on to the lead to win 3-0. 

(Women’s) New Zealand vs Australia 1-2

New Zealand made the better start to the game and earned a deserved lead six minutes in with Olivia Shannon deflecting an Olivia Merry shot from the penalty corner, lifting it over Jos Bartram. New Zealand turned the ball over inside their 25 twice in the final minute succumbing to the Australian press but were bailed out both times by Grace O’Hanlon rushing out to make two great saves. New Zealand were better in the second quarter in playing out of the back despite the Australian press, but neither side created a clear scoring chance as the hosts held on to the one goal lead going into the half. 

Australia were better in attack in the second half but were once again denied by individual brilliance from Grace O’Hanlon in the third quarter. They found their own piece of individual brilliance in the final quarter as Maddison Brooks scored with a brilliant tomahawk shot from just inside the left side of the circle that thundered past Brooke Roberts, who was in the goal for the Black Sticks in the final quarter. Australia kept pressing for the winner and finally found the goal to take the lead as a close range save by Brooks off a Schonell shot saw the rebound fall to Abigail Wilson who smashed the ball into the top of the goal to seal all 3 points for the Hockeyroos.

Hannah Cullum-Sanders was awarded player of the match and said: “We are always excited to play against New Zealand. Great to see both goals coming from new players, who both scored their first international goals and it will give them even more confidence going forward.” 

(Men’s) New Zealand vs Australia 0-3

Australia made the perfect start to the game winning an early penalty corner that was converted by Joel Rintala to give the Kookaburras the lead less than 3 minutes into the game. Australia could have added more goals in the first quarter but a Dominic Dixon goalkeeping masterclass kept the deficit down to one goal at the end of the first 15 minutes. Second quarter brought more of the same, as Australia had the better of the territory and possession, frequently finding a way into the Black Sticks’ circle from the right. They continued to win more penalty corners and Joel Rintala added two more goals, scoring a first half hat-trick in just his second game for Australia. 

Both teams created plenty of circle penetrations in the third quarter but failed to find the final connection as multiple tap-in opportunities were missed by both sides. New Zealand won a penalty corner with 5 seconds left in the third quarter but Sharp pulled off a fantastic save on the goal-line as a post defender to preserve Australia’s clean sheet heading into the final quarter. Rintala had an opportunity to score his fourth as Ben Staines found him in front of the goal after some excellent interplay on the left wing, but Brydon made an excellent recovery tackle before Rintala could slot the ball into an empty goal. Two yellow cards in the final quarter for Phillips and Cohen ended New Zealand’s chances of mounting a comeback as Australia saw the game out with ease. 

Joel Rintala, hat-trick hero, was awarded the player of the match and said: “It’s great to get some goals early into my career and they ended up being the difference between the two sides. We have been working on our pressing game and it worked better today than in the first game against Great Britain, so we will keep improving on it.”

FIH Pro League – 25 April 2023

Nga Puna Wai Hockey Stadium, Christchurch (NZL)

Result: Women’s Match 33

New Zealand 1-2 Australia

Player of the Game: Hannah Cullum-Sanders (AUS)

Umpires: Aleisha Neumann (AUS), Amber Church (NZL), Emi Yamada (JPN-video)

Result: Men’s Match 33

New Zealand 0-3 Australia

Player of the Game: Joel Rintala (AUS)

Umpires: Gareth Greenfield (NZL), Steve Rogers (AUS), Amber Church (NZL-video)