Hockeyroos fall to China on return to international competition

Published Mon 05 Feb 2024

The Hockeyroos eagerly awaited return to international competition has been spoiled by a ruthless Chinese side, going  down in Bhubaneswar 3-0 in the side’s first international match in five months.
Dubbed the battle of the champions of Asia and the champions of Oceania, and with last March’s series loss to China in Perth still fresh in their minds, a recent rivalry was re-ignited as the Hockeyroos opened their FIH Pro League campaign.
Under the familiar guidance of skipper Jane Claxton, the Hockeyroos also unleashed new talent, in debutant Lucy Sharman.
The South Australian’s whirlwind 12 months intensifying as she ran out in yellow for the very first time.
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.
Admitting they were on the back foot at the half, coach Katrina Powell’s half-time rev-up wasn’t enough to halt China’s sudden attack, as they came out firing in the third quarter.
China’s Yuan Meng made the Hockeyroos pay eventually, perfectly positioned in the deep, slipping 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 1st career goal in just 9 appearances.
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 4th, 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 admitted post-match.
“We haven’t played in 5 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 morning’s (AEDT) 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.

Match Details
China: 3 (Yuan Meng 37’, Yu Anhui 39’, Yuan Meng 55’)
Hockeyroos: 0
In Bhubaneswar, India

Hockeyroos: 2. Rosie Malone, 8. Maddison Brooks, 14. Steph Kershaw, 15. Kaitlin Nobbs, 17. Lucy Sharman*, 18. Jane Claxton (c), 19. Jocelyn Bartram (gk), 20. Karri Sommerville, 22. Tatum Stewart, 29. Rebecca Greiner, 30. Grace Stewart, 1. Claire Colwill, 4. Amy Lawton, 5. Grace Young, 11. Alice Arnott, 13. Hattie Shand, 21. Renee Taylor, 41. Zoe Newman (gk) 
* Player on debut