The Hockeyroos finished the home & away stage of the FIH Pro League with a 3-1 defeat to the minor premiers Netherlands in Amstelveen on Sunday.
The world champions, buoyed by a loud crowd all in orange showed why they have not lost a single match since their defeat in Melbourne in February.
Rachael Lynch made two impressive saves early - her second in particular a highlight. As the Netherlands streamed forward into the circle, the cross would have gone straight to the waiting forward but for a diving interception by Australia’s most capped keeper.
Two early penalty corners went the way of the Netherlands, and the second one was converted by Ireen van den Assem with a low shot into the bottom left corner.
The momentum continued in favour of the hosts through the second term, with the half time stats seeing the Dutch well ahead in circle entries (15-3), penalty corners (5-0), and shots (9-1).
Australia had control of possession for most of the second quarter, but were unable to break through the Dutch defence and put their goalkeeper under any real stress.
Not much changed in the third quarter, with the Hockeyroos just seeming to lack intensity and drive to attack with purpose.
Rebecca Greiner found herself with the best scoring opportunity of the day when she managed to steal the ball at the top of the circle and face the goalkeeper one-on-one. Unfortunately, her shot was wide right and Australia remained goalless going into three-quarter time.
Edwina Bone found herself green carded early in the final quarter, and it proved to be costly as the Netherlands almost immediately scored through Laurien Leurink.
To put the result beyond doubt, Maria Verschoor added a third goal that was examined on review but ticked off by the video umpire.
After taking Jocelyn Bartram off the pitch to add an extra outfielder, Emily Chalker found herself in the right place at the right time to score a consolation goal for the visitors.
Were it not for an umpire review, the Netherlands would have had a fourth goal. The video umpire spotting a backstick and reversing the decision.
Hockeyroos coach Paul Gaudoin said that improvement would be needed ahead of the semi finals.
“It was a good opportunity playing the best team in the world before the finals,” Gaudoin said post-game.
“We struggled to stick to the game plan against a quality team. That can happen, but we need to be significantly better against Argentina in the semi final.
“There were patches of really good play, but not enough. We need to go back and have a good look at what we’re doing with the ball.”
Australia’s next match will be the semi-final against Argentina at the same venue on Thursday.
Australia 1 (Chalker 57’)
Netherlands 3 (van den Assem 14’, Leurink 51’, Verschoor 54’)