THE Hockeyroos, which includes Gerringong’s Grace Stewart and Ulladulla’s Kalindi Commerford, have suffered a 3-1 loss to China PR in the opening game of their five-match series at Hale Hockey Club on Sunday evening.
The Chinese raced away to a 3-nil half-time lead before a more determined second-half display from the Hockeyroos.
Jodie Kenny pulled one goal back in the third quarter via a penalty stroke but Australia were unable to add to their total in the final term despite plenty of pressure.
The result gives China the advantage in the series which continues on Monday from 4.30pm WST/7.30pm AEST at Hale Hockey Club.
China started well from the outset and set the tone early, with Peng Yang opening the scoring in the third minute with a fine turn and shot which went through Hockeyroos goalkeeper Rachael Lynch’s legs.
Kathryn Slattery had Australia’s first chance with a reverse stick effort, before Xi doubled the visitors’ lead in the ninth minute, squeezing a shot in at the near post.
Chances were few and far between in the second quarter, with Song adding China’s third on the stroke of half-time when her cutback deflected in off Hockeyroos defender Lily Brazel.
Australia responded well in the second half with Eddie Bone, in her first game back after more than six months out with injury, offering a threat down the right.
Emily Smith’s deflection tested China keeper Ye Jiao, before Australia won a penalty stroke from a penalty corner.
Kenny stepped up to the convert the stroke high to Ye Jiao’s right to give the Hockeyroos hope.
With six minutes to play in the final quarter, Australia replaced Lynch with an outfield player and had their greatest threat, with Madi Ratcliffe testing Ye Jiao from a penalty corner.
Smith and birthday girl Savannah Fitzpatrick both forced saves from Ye Jiao in the dying moments but it wasn’t to be for Australia.
Full-time: Australia 1 (Kenny 50’) – China PR 3 (Peng Yang 3’, Xi X.Y. 9’, Song X.M. 34’)twi