Photo: Getty Images/FIH
Despite a dramatic second half, the New Zealand Men have been edged 2-1 by Australia in their opening match at the Rio Olympic Games.
Down 2-0 at halftime, the Kiwis scored a goal straight after the break through James Coughlan and then looked to have delivered a stunning equaliser in the fourth quarter only to have it disallowed by a video referral.
The result sees world number one Australia take away all three points although the New Zealanders should carry some confidence from their gritty performance.
New Zealand made a fast start to the match as they looked to put early pressure on in attack, although the Australian defence held firm.
Australia opened the scoring in the seventh minute when Chris Ciriello rocketed a penalty corner drag flick into the side of the net.
A mistrap at the back midway through the second quarter allowed the Aussies to counter attack with Matt Gohdes setting himself up for an easy deflection into goal.
The Kiwis lit up the scoreboard in the 31st minute following a brilliant run from Hugo Inglis who took the ball into the circle and fired across the face for James Coughlan to smash into goal.
The goal sparked a clear lift in momentum from New Zealand who muscled up in defence and continued to create some solid chances on attack.
With just five minutes left in the game, the Kiwis looked to have equalised with Hayden Phillips sending a screamer towards goal for Inglis to deflect in.
However, following a video referral from Australia the goal was overturned with the initial strike from Phillips ruled dangerous.
New Zealand battled bravely as time ticked away and put huge pressure on the Aussies, but just couldn’t muster another goal.
The Men are back in action against Great Britain at 8:00am tomorrow (NZ time), with live coverage on SKY Sport 3.
Meanwhile, the New Zealand Women get their first taste of action in Rio at 1:00am tomorrow when they take on Korea, live on SKY Sport 3.
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New Zealand 1: (James Coughlan)
Australia 2: (Chris Ciriello, Matt Gohdes)
Halftime: Australia 2-0