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China take pole position for the Perth Women’s Cup as the Hockeyroos falter

Published Wed 24 Apr 2024

It was another twist in the tale of a burgeoning rivalry between the Hockeyroos and China, as China’s never-say-die attitude saw them claim victory in the second half of the sides’ final meeting in the Perth International Festival of Hockey.

Earlier in the day, Australia A’s 2 – 1 victory over Japan made the top of the table clash between the two unbeaten sides a major factor in determining who would be lifting the Perth Women’s Cup at the end of the series on Sunday.

The Hockeyroos looked to have the better of China in a first quarter that went relatively absent of goal scoring chances, but a fortuitous bounce from a deflected China penalty corner attempt saw them claim a 1 – 0 lead in the final minute before the first quarter break.

The Hockeyroos returned in quarter two with power and hit back almost immediately - Rosie Malone’s touch to convert Steph Kershaw’s pinpoint pass locking up scores before some punters had even returned to their seats.

It only took another 2 minutes for the Hockeyroos’ relentless attack to put them ahead, as contender for series MVP Beck Greiner stole possession in the attacking half and crossed perfectly into the run of Maddy Brooks who finished well under pressure.

China returned punches early in the second half, calling the last line of defense into action as resilient glove and stick saves from Aleisha Power and Renee Taylor kept Australia on top.

Not to be outdone, China took a leaf out of Australia’s book and started the fourth quarter with a bang, finding Chen Yang free on the far post for an easy finish within the first minute of the fourth quarter.

The sides traded blows throughout the fourth quarter, as a consecutive 2 - 2 draw between the two sides seemed more and more likely.

Finally, with only two minutes remaining, Zou Meirong scored from a perfectly planned penalty corner, putting a late dagger through the hearts of Australian fans that had made it out to watch on a cold night in Perth.

Despite not getting the result she was after, Aleisha Power certainly seemed to have the cobwebs well and truly dusted off in her first games back since June last year.

“It feels amazing. I think when you've been in a bit of a grind, I guess for eight to nine months all you're doing is rehab and trying to get back to training,” Power said post-match.

“Just stepping out in the field with the girls is the best feeling I guess in the world.”

Despite still rehabbing, Power joined the squad on their India Pro League trip in February in what proved to be crucial preparation for returning.

“I ended up going with the girls over to India. It was really important because I did my last two weeks of rehab to get back to finally playing, but also got to be around the group and still learn what we're doing at the moment.”

With China’s winner coming in the final minutes of the game Power acknowledged there’s learnings from the match.

“We need to play the full game and not underestimate them (China) and just keep the consistency is probably what I would take from that game.

The Hockeyroos will now need either Japan or Australia A to take points from China to have a chance at claiming the Perth Women’s Cup. We wait for Saturday now, as the Hockeyroos are set to play Australia A at 2:30pm AWST, and Japan look to bounce back against China in the feature match beginning from 4:30pm AWST/6:30PM AEST.

You can see the full Perth International Series of Hockey fixture here.

All feature matches will be streamed live and free on 7plus.

Match Details
Hockeyroos: 2 (Rosie Malone 16’, Maddison Brooks 18’)
China: 3 (Chen Yi 15’, Chen Yang 46’, Meirong Zou 58’)
At Perth Hockey Stadium

Hockeyroos: 1. Claire Colwill, 2. Rosie Malone, 4. Amy Lawton, 5. Grace Young, 7. Aleisha Power (GK), 8. Maddison Brooks, 12. Greta Hayes, 13. Hattie Shand, 14. Steph Kershaw, 15. Kaitlin Nobbs, 17. Lucy Sharman, 18. Jane Claxton (C), 19. Jocelyn Bartram (GK), 20. Karri Somerville, 21. Renee Taylor, 24. Mariah Williams, 29. Rebecca Greiner