Spain too strong for Kookaburras in Tasmania
A brace to Marc Reyne and a late goal from Marc Miralles has secured Spain a 4-2 victory over the Kookaburras in their FIH Pro League match in Hobart.
On a night when Cairns local Jayden Atkinson became the 437th player to represent the Kookaburras, it was not to be for the hosts despite the best efforts of goalkeeper Johan Durst and defensive teammates Jake Harvie and Jeremy Hayward.
An early sighter on the tomahawk from Blake Govers showed promising early signs but it was Spain who went ahead in the 11th minute, converting with their fourth penalty corner from a breakdown that landed with Reyne at the back post.
The quarter ended with Lachlan Sharp earning a setpiece opportunity for Hayward before Jack Welch fired an effort over the top on his reverse stick.
After failing to convert another setpiece early in the second term, Spain put themselves in the driving seat when Reyne scored his second from in-front of goal.
The goal fired the Kookaburras into action and hometown hero Josh Beltz broke the Spanish defence open with a driving run and assist for Govers to touch home in the 21st minute to make it 2-1.
But just as the Kookaburras had worked themselves back into the contest, Spain reinstated their two-goal cushion when Jose Basterra fired home on his reverse after Durst had saved brilliantly from Bruno Font.
The Kookaburras sought to review the decision believing the shot was taken from the back of Basterra's stick, but the video umpire could not provide definitive advice and the goal stood.
Craig Marais pegged the deficit back early in the third quarter, scoring his first international goal in just his seventh appearance to set up a thrilling final stanza.
With Harvie and Durst continuing their brilliance at the back, the Kookaburras enjoyed long periods of possession and thrust numbers forward in search of a goal.
But a yellow card to Sharp late on took the sting out of their hopes of a fightback, with Miralles applying the icing on Spain's cake from a late penalty corner, seconds after Durst had been withdrawn as Australia chased a result.
While disappointed with the final result, Atkinson said it was a thrill to run out for the Kookaburras for the first time.
"It was everything I dreamed of. The pace and intensity was what I expected and a bit more ... unfortunately we didn't get the result on the night, but hopefully we can use the rest day to look at how we can get better and beat Argentina on Friday.
"We had a lot of opportunities in our attacking half... we were holding the ball well but struggling to get through Spain's flooding defence at the back. We'll review the game and look to improve."
The Kookaburras have a rest day on Thursday before taking on Argentina at 5pm (AEDT) on Friday.