GERRINGONG’S Grace Stewart, Ulladulla’s Kalindi Commerford and their Hockeyroos have taken the lead in the five-match series against China PR after a 4-1 victory at Guildford Grammar Turf on Friday night.
Australia continued the theme of first-half goals in the series, racing to a 3-nil lead in the second quarter.
Kathryn Slattery scored two goals inside the opening six minutes to give Australia a 2-nil lead and they never looked back.
Hockeyroos skipper Emily Smith added a third in the 26th minute, before China pulled one back before half-time through Luo.
China pressed in the second half but Gabi Nance settled the contest with a calm finish in the 54th minute.
The two sides will meet again in the final game of the series, which Australia leads 2-1 with one draw, on Saturday at Guildford Grammar Turf from 6pm WST/9pm AEDT.
Smith fired an early warning shot with an effort saved by China goalkeeper Li Dongxiao inside the first minute, before the Hockeyroos took a fifth minute lead.
After a penalty corner broke down, Eddie Bone, in her third game back after a six-month knee injury, shot goalward with Slattery deflecting it home.
Sixty seconds later, Grace Stewart shot low across goal, allowing Slattery to divert home from a central position for 2-nil.
Savannah Fitzpatrick fired over twice in the quick succession as Australia mounted the pressure, whilst restricting China’s opportunities on goal.
After a slow start to the second quarter, Australia captain Smith added a third in the 26th minute, deflecting home Fitzpatrick’s diagonal ball.
Nance shot wide twice before China pulled a goal back when Luo powered home into the back of the net from a cutback on the stroke of half-time.
Stewart had a chance to restore Australia’s three-goal buffer in the third quarter when she swooped on an errant pass but Li pulled off a diving save.
Emily Hurtz also tested Li while Fitzpatrick missed a golden opportunity from close range before the final break.
Nance settled the contest in the 54th minute with a cool finish after more good work from Slattery in the lead-up.
Hurtz almost added a fifth but Li made an excellent point-blank save to ensure it remained 4-1 at full-time.
Full-time: Australia 4 (Slattery 5’, 6’, Smith 26’, Nance 54’) defeated China 1 (Luo 33’)
Hockeyroos team: Wells (gk), Bone, Nobbs, Kenny, McMahon, Commerford, Claxton, Nance, S. Fitzpatrick, Smith (c), Slattery; Bartram (gk), Fey, Taylor, Bates, Kershaw, Hurtz, Stewart