Hockeyroos downed by hosts India in Pro League clash

Ian ChadbandAAP
Veteran Vandana Katariya scored the goal in India's 1-0 FIH Pro League win over the Hockeyroos. (AP PHOTO)
Camera IconVeteran Vandana Katariya scored the goal in India's 1-0 FIH Pro League win over the Hockeyroos. (AP PHOTO) Credit: AP

The resurgent Hockeyroos have been stopped in their tracks by hosts India, who were cheered to a 1-0 victory by their enthusiastic home fans in Rourkela in a tight FIH Pro League clash.

Katrina Powell's world No.3 outfit, confident after two dominant wins over China and the US, found the stubborn home defence much harder to crack on Saturday (Sunday AEDT) while they succumbed to a brilliant third-quarter goal from Vandana Katariya.

Katariya, one of India's best-loved players with more than 300 caps to her name, sent the crowd into raptures as she stole in from the right of the circle and hurled herself full-length to get on the end of Navneet Kaur's well-directed penalty corner and divert it into the net.

It left the Hockeyroos frustrated after they'd come the closest to scoring in the opening half when NSW's Alice Arnott, outstanding for Australia throughout the tournament, hit the post.

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"All credit to India, they came out playing a really fast, attacking brand of hockey and we didn't play the way we wanted to for the full 60 minutes," said the Roos' Grace Stewart.

"I think the crowd getting behind them definitely gave them an extra boost."

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There was a sense of desperation for victory in the air for India, who'd won only one match in their last six and had missed out on qualifying for the Olympics.

They recognised the potential for substantial consolation by beating the Hockeyroos for the first time in the FIH Pro League and repeating their Olympic quarter-final triumph over the Aussies in Tokyo three years ago - another 1-0 affair.

The Hockeyroos didn't show much creativity as they tried to break down the home defence and when they got their final opportunity with a contentious penalty corner in the last few seconds, they made such a mess of it they didn't even produce a final shot on goal.

There's a quick turnaround and it doesn't get any easier for the Australians, who next have to face Olympic champions, the Netherlands, on Sunday.

The Dutch haven't lost in 44 matches, have won all their league matches so far and hammered the Hockeyroos 6-2 in their last match eight days ago.

"They're going to come out with a lot of confidence and the key to beating them is finding consistency in the way we're playing and really taking it to them and not shying away from them," said Stewart

"We know they're good but we also know we're good players too."

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