Grace Stewart
Inframe : Grace Stewart / Photo Credits : Getty Images

Australia’s Hockeyroos defeat resistant China 4-3 in a pulsating FIH Pro League game at the Tasmania Hockey Centre in Hobart.

Australia (FIH World Ranking: 3) came into their meeting with FIH Pro League debutants China (WR:10) looking to bounce back from last weekend’s surprising home defeat at the hands of lower ranked Belgium, a result which had followed a brilliant victory over world champions the Netherlands in their first fixture.

However, they would have to do it without talismanic defender Jodie Kenny, with Head Coach Paul Gaudoin stating in the pre-match broadcast interview that a slight quad muscle injury was enough to rule the 31-year-old penalty corner expert out of the contest.

The match was evenly contested from start to finish, with the visitors making a lively start before Williams opened the scoring two minutes before the end of the first quarter with a penalty corner deflection.

China levelled things up midway through the second quarter thanks Zhong Jiaqi’s cracking finish on the turn, firing into the bottom corner following a perfect pass from Yong Jing.

The two sides traded blows in the minutes before the half time break, with Rosie Malone’s close range strike being cancelled out almost immediately by Dan Wen’s unerringly accurate push-shot that cannoned into the goal via the post to leave the match evenly balanced at 2-2.

An entertaining but score-less third quarter was followed by result defining fourth period. An early yellow card to China defender Sun Xiao reduced the visitors to ten players for five minutes, allowing Australia to take full advantage of the situation by scoring twice against their numerically disadvantaged opponents.

A defensive error was ruthlessly punished by a first time strike from Grace Stewart before Williams was allowed to run unchallenged through the China midfield to create a simple tap-in for Savannah Fitzpatrick.

Sun’s return to the field combined with a yellow card for Australia’s Kaitlin Nobbs resulted in a momentum shift, with China pulling a goal back thanks to a superb touch from Yong Jing with four minutes remaining. However, a yellow card to Zhang Jinrong handed the initiative back to the Hockeyroos, who controlled the final minutes to claim all three points.

Full time score : Australia 4-3 China