Joel Rintala hat-trick inspires Kookaburras against Kiwis

Joel Rintala grabbed a hat-trick for Australia in the 3-0 win over New Zealand in the Pro League.

Joel Rintala grabbed a hat-trick for Australia in the 3-0 win over New Zealand in the Pro League. Photo: AAP

A three-goal burst from Joel Rintala in just his second international has propelled the Kookaburras to a convincing 3-0 win over New Zealand in their Pro League match in Christchurch.

Rintala put on a drag-flicking masterclass, the Queenslander’s hat-trick all coming from penalty corners in the space of 21 first-half minutes on Tuesday.

The Kookaburras dominated the goal-scoring chances throughout the contest but could not add further to the scoreline as they rebounded from their defeat to Great Britain in resounding fashion.

Rintala’s first goal came in the third minute after Ben Staines earned the Kookaburras’ first penalty corner of the match.

Great defensive lead running from Jake Whetton blocked the Black Sticks’ first penalty corner opportunity before he combined with James Collins and Aran Zalewski at the other end to conjure an opportunity which was kept out by goalkeeper Dominic Dixon.

Then within the space of two second-quarter minutes, Rintala had a hat-trick as he executed two thunderous drag flicks to blow the game open.

The Black Sticks were just failing to connect with crucial passes inside their attacking 25, preventing them to seriously threaten the Kookaburras goal.

Staines twice went close to adding a fourth with six minutes to go in the third quarter before the Kookaburras survived a New Zealand penalty corner in the shadows of three-quarter time.

A streaming Ky Willott on the right sent the ball to Craig Marais but he could not direct his shot on target as the Kookaburras looked to add to their tally in the last quarter.

Blood was spilt in the last five minutes as a diving Nathan Ephraums showed his desperation in attempting to pounce on a rebound from a save, but the ball ricocheted onto his forehead to leave him with a cut above the eye.

Staines then went inches from topping off the win as he cannoned a drag flick into the post, with the Kookaburras forced to settle for a 3-0 result.

“It was pretty pleasing to get the job done and score today,” a nonchalant Rintala said post match.

“We worked on some things that we didn’t do so well the other day against Great Britain so it was good to secure the win.”

The Kookaburras now prepare to take on Great Britain for the second time of this Pro League ‘mini tournament’ on Saturday.

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