International hockey returned to New Zealand last night after long Covid restrictions as the Black Sticks Women squandered a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 with Australia in North Harbour.
Nine months since both teams last played a match at the Tokyo Olympics, there was a little bit of rust to shake off although Australia had a few good chances in the first quarter but for some excellent keeping by Grace O'Hanlon.
The Kiwis responded positively with a strong midfield display putting pressure on the Australian defence. Debutant Rose Tynan opened her account early in the second quarter with a tap in off a penalty corner to put the Black Sticks up 1-0 leading into the halftime break.
The Black Sticks started the stronger in the second half resulting in a stunning long distance pass, rarely seen at international level, by Steph Dickins to Olivia Shannon who went one-on-one with the keeper and smashed home a powerful shot to put New Zealand up 2-0.
The Australians turned it around in the fourth quarter earning a succession of penalty corners resulting in a goal and then another goal from a penalty stroke, due to a body on the line, to bring themselves level three minutes into the quarter and putting the Black Sticks on the back foot.
Neither team was able to find a winner and were both able to retain composure in the final minutes to end up with a draw.