Hockeyroos fall to China on international return

Staff WritersAAP
Grace Young was carded out in the Hockeyroos' 3-0 FIH Pro League loss to China in India. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS)
Camera IconGrace Young was carded out in the Hockeyroos' 3-0 FIH Pro League loss to China in India. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP

China have spoiled the Hockeyroos' eagerly awaited return to international competition with a ruthless 3-0 win in Bhubaneswar, India.

Dubbed the battle of the champions of Asia and the champions of Oceania, China put Australia to the sword with a clinical performance in the Hockeyroos' first international outing in five months.

With last March's series loss to China in Perth still fresh in their minds, the Hockeyroos had been hoping to launch their FIH Pro League campaign in style.

Under the familiar guidance of skipper Jane Claxton, the Hockeyroos also unleashed new talent in debutant Lucy Sharman with the South Australian's whirlwind 12 months intensifying as she ran out in yellow for the very first time.

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China, hot off a gritty 2-1 win over hosts India, were happy to sit back and let the Hockeyroos set the tempo.

But despite a few shots on target and a few huge saves by NSW goalkeeper Jocelyn Bartram, neither side could break the deadlock.

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Admitting they were on the back foot at the half, coach Katrina Powell's halftime rev-up wasn't enough to halt China's sudden attack as they came out firing in the third quarter.

China's Yuan Meng eventually made the Hockeyroos pay.

Perfectly positioned in the deep, Meng slipped the ball over the right shoulder of goalkeeper Zoe Newman to take the lead 1-0.

From there, China had all of the momentum, accelerating the tempo and quickly notching another with a huge goal through Yu Anhui - her first international score in her ninth appearance.

The Hockeyroos were suddenly down 2-0 and shortly after down to just 10 players right before the break, through a card to Grace Young.

By the quarter, the Hockeyroos were finding their notorious dangerous form, showing moments of brilliance as they warmed back into international competition.

But China was on a roll and suddenly, Yuan Meng was poised in the centre of the D, unmarked and ready to strike.

Meng claimed her second goal of the night with a fantastic strike, sealing the deal on the Hockeyroos return and forcing a 3-0 loss.

"It's not how we wanted to start our season," Claxton said.

"We haven't played in five months ... We have a lot to learn. Going into the next match we'll be a lot more patient against the USA."

The USA are also hunting a win heading into Wednesday's match after opening their campaign against the Netherlands with a mammoth 7-0 loss.

After taking on the Americans, the Hockeyroos continue their Season 5 FIH Pro League campaign against hosts India before a hotly anticipated match against the Netherlands on Friday night.

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