The Hockeyroos and China have saved the best until last, playing out a seven-goal thriller with the visitors prevailing 4-3 in the final match of the series, presented by JDH, at Perth Hockey Stadium at Curtin University tonight.
Entering the match needing a win to level up the series, Renee Taylor gave the Hockeyroos a dream start with a sweetly timed drag flick into the top corner in the 3rd minute after the Australians linked up superbly from inside their own half to win a penalty corner.
However, China’s response was swift as Bingfeng Gu equalised two minutes later from their third penalty corner in quick succession.
The Hockeyroos could not convert from a penalty corner variation and China made them pay as they capitalised from their next set piece, Yanan Xu striking low and hard to goalkeeper Zoe Newman’s left to make it 2-1 after nine minutes.
Neither side could add to their tally in the second quarter before the Hockeyroos won another penalty corner through some great pressure from Rebecca Greiner and dogged persistence in the attacking circle from Abby Wilson.
Penny Squibb had two drag flicks blocked and just as she looked to load up again on a third penalty corner, China were undone by the element of surprise as she deftly flicked the ball behind to Taylor who hammered a shot into the backboard to tie it up.
But Meiyu Liang put China back ahead in the 43rd minute with a stunning tomahawk.
Then with nine minutes to go the Hockeyroos were level again when Rosie Malone swooped in unmarked to meet a searching Courtney Schonell cross from the left to make it 3-3.
Greiner and Schonell combined magnificently down the left and the instinctive Malone was on hand to put the ball into the back of the net.
The Hockeyroos had their tails up as they went in search of a winner but China had other ideas as they caught the hosts napping, Jiaqi Zhong sneaking the ball in at the near post in the 55th minute.
The goal would prove the sealer as China wrapped up the series that saw a host of Hockeyroos gain invaluable international experience.
“The results didn’t go our way these past three games but there is a lot we can take out of them,” said Taylor.
“We showed progression through the series…scored three goals today and unfortunately China scored four so that’s something we need to tighten up, but there are plenty of positives we can take out of it.”
“The good thing about having these matches is it allows us to keep building, so we’ll take a lot out of this series heading into the rest of the year.”
The Hockeyroos will now prepare for a FIH Pro League ‘mini tournament’ against New Zealand and Great Britain in Christchurch from 22-30 April.
Hockeyroos 3 (Taylor 3’/36’, Malone 51’)
China 4 (Bingfeng Gu 5’, Yanan Xu 9’, Meiyu Liang 43’, Jiaqi Zhong 55’)
@ Perth Hockey Stadium at Curtin University
Hockeyroos: 2.Rosie Malone, 4.Amy Lawton, 5.Grace Young, 6.Penny Squibb, 8.Georgia Wilson, 9.Shanea Tonkin, 10.Maddy Fitzpatrick, 13.Hattie Shand, 16.Courtney Schonell, 18.Jane Claxton (c), 19.Jocelyn Bartram (gk), 21.Renee Taylor, 29.Rebecca Greiner, 35.Maddison Brooks, 37.Morgan Gallagher, 41.Zoe Newman (gk), 42.Maddison Smith, 44.Abby Wilson