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A shorthanded and youthful Vantage Black Sticks struggled against the world No1 ranked Kookaburras at the National Hockey Centre in Auckland last night.
With eight key players unavailable for the opening match of the Sentinel Homes Trans-Tasman series the Kiwis went down 8-1, finding themselves unable to match the pace and quality of the Australian attack. The home side also fielded six debutants, while the Kookaburras fielded a largely unchanged side from their Olympic campaign — with two of their players having more caps than the entire Black Sticks team.
Defender David Brydon opened the scoring early in the second quarter, finding himself open in the inner circle and coolly slotting home to put the Kiwis up 1-0.
The lead did not last long, however, with the Kookaburras scoring three in quick succession and put themselves up 3-1 at the half.
The visitors maintained a strong grip on possession throughout the game, making it difficult for the Black Sticks to get into the game.
Australia pressed home its advantage with five second-half goals.
The Black Sticks managed to stem the tide and show their potential in the fourth quarter, setting up a more competitive game two tomorrow as the Kiwis hopefully welcome back a couple more players into the squad.