THE Hockeyroos, featuring Gerringong’s Grace Stewart, have beaten China 4-3 in an FIH Pro League thriller, at the Tasmanian Hockey Centre in Hobart on Saturday evening.
Goals to player of the match Mariah Williams, Rosie Malone, Grace Stewart and Savannah Fitzpatrick were enough to secure Australia’s second victory for the tournament, in front of an enthusiastic Hobart crowd.
“It’s fantastic to get the three points,” Hockeyroos coach Paul Gaudoin said.
“We had some really quality play on occasion and some poor play as well.
We have to lift our consistency moving forward.”
The victory pushes the Hockeyroos to the top of the FIH Pro League standings for the time being, Australia plays again on Sunday when they take on Germany in Hobart.
Despite the loss, China will be buoyed by the performances of Jiaqi Zhong, Dan Wen and Yong Jing, all of whom were able to hit the scoreboard.
Australia was without co-captain Jodie Kenny due to a quad injury sustained in training throughout the week but bridged the defensive gap with standout performances from Lily Brazel and Madison Fitzpatrick.
After missing an extended period of time due to injury, Williams scored her first international goal since the Rio Olympics by way of deflection from an Australian penalty corner in the 13th minute of the match.
A flurry of goals late in the second quarter kept fans on the edge of their seats.
China started the chain of scores in the 25th minute when Zhong Jiaqi gained possession off of a deflection in the attacking circle and smashed a strong shot past Australian goalkeeper Ashlee Wells.
Malone was the next to score in the 28th minute, finding some open space after a shot from Stewart was turned away and nailing the backboard with ease.
Dan Wen tied things up in the dying seconds of the half when she ran the ball inside the attacking circle and beat Wells with some impressive stick work.
The Hockeyroos’ breakthrough came as a result of China’s Sun Xiao was sent off with a yellow card in the 47th minute.
Stewart was the first to take advantage, she found herself one-on-one with the keeper off an assist from Madison Fitzpatrick and rocketed one into the net.
Just two minutes later the Hockeyroos extended their lead again when Williams found Savannah Fitzpatrick from the top of the attacking circle for the deflection goal.
A fortuitous goal from Yong Jing in the 56th minute wasn’t enough for China avoid defeat in their first match of the FIH Pro League
The Hockeyroos will now turn their attention to Germany ahead of Sunday’s clash in Hobart.