The Hockeyroos have started the 2018 Champions Trophy with victory after a 2-1 win over reigning champions Argentina in Changzhou, China, on Saturday night.
Gold Coast’s Rosie Malone scored twice in a three-minute burst late in the first quarter for Australia, who had to withstand a barrage of second-half Argentine pressure to hang on for the points.
Malone struck in the 12th minute converting Maddy Fitzpatrick’s pass, before producing some magic to score in the 15th minute.
Maria Granatto pulled a goal back in the 33rd minute for Las Leonas, but Hockeyroos keeper Ash Wells and the Australian defence were resolute despite several Argentina chances.
The win was the ideal start for Australia who blooded three debutants in Greta Hayes, Rebecca Greiner and Penny Squibb.
The result earns Australia three points ahead of Sunday’s clash with Olympic champions Great Britain, who drew 2-2 with China PR in the first game of the day, from 5pm AEDT live on Fox Sports.
Hockeyroos coach Paul Gaudoin said: “I’m extremely happy with the win. I don’t think we played that well in the second half but it was pleasing to score a few field goals in the first half.”
Argentina finished with 18-7 circle entries, 8-4 shots and more possession in the opposition half.
Gaudoin added: “We showed some grit. We just need to be smarter when we’re 1-0 or 2-0 up.”
Argentina had the early pressure, with Julieta Jankunas forcing a low save from Australia keeper Rachael Lynch.
However, it was the Hockeyroos who took the lead in the 12th minute when Cabarita Beach’s Fitzpatrick cut the ball back from the baseline for Malone to poke home.
Three minutes later Australia had a two-goal buffer, when Malone weaved some magic on the baseline before scuffing a shot past Argentina keeper Belen Succi.
The goal was officially awarded to Malone, although Bundaberg debutant Greiner may have got the final touch on the line.
After an uneventful second period, Granatto showed Argentina’s intent shortly after the long interval, producing skill to beat Jodie Kenny before lifting her shot past Wells to make it 2-1.
Las Leonas skipper Delfina Merino fired a shot into the post in the 43rd minute, while Australia survived a close call from a penalty corner late in the third with Wells saving well.
Martina Cavallero shot into the side netting from close range in the 49th minute with the Hockeyroos coming under intense pressure.
Jodie Kenny almost restored Australia’s two-goal advantage from a 52nd minute short corner, but defender Agustina Habif produced a stunning save on the line with her stick.
Wells made one more save in the final minute as Australia secured a winning start.
Australia : 2 (Malone 12′, 15′)
Argentina : 1 (Granatto 33′)