After a flying start the Hockeyroos squandered a two goal lead, the third game of the six-test series in Melbourne ending in a 3-3 draw.
After scoring twice in the first ten minutes the Hockeyroos began to tire, three games in four days taking its toll on the athletes, letting the disciplined Japanese team back into the match.
Nikki Hudson got the ball rolling for Australia when she was given too much room at the top of the circle, her strike with too much heat on it for the keeper in the seventh minute.
Two minutes later it was 2-0 when Megan Rivers scored her second goal in two games after deflecting a long baseline pass from Lambert into the net.
It looked like the Hockeyroos would continue on their merry way until Japan got one back in the 13th minute when Miyuki Nakagawa scored for Japan, but the lead was soon back out to two shortly after when Emily Halliday struck through a penalty corner just before half time.
3-1 up the Hockeyroos were in a great position, and had some good opportunities to extend that lead, but Japan rallied, piling on two unanswered goals as they ran over the top of the tired Hockeyroos outfit.
They scored the first from a penalty corner, while the equaliser came in the 63rd minute from a well scrapped goal from Sakae Morimoto.
Both sides had opportunities in the last seven minutes but for the Hockeyroos they couldn't break the heavy defense of Japan, while their own defence also stood strong, continually rebounding the ball into the Australian half with no result though, the match ending in a 3-3 draw.
"I was disappointed with the performance today," said national coach Frank Murray.
"We were quite tired and flat I thought. We got a couple of goals early but then just got tired. Players weren't presenting, or running, and our skills let us down. You just can't play like that against a good team like Japan."
"We always knew that at two goals down they'd get back because they have that run and discipline. We missed some opportunities and were just a little bit off today."
The Hockeyroos will make four changes to the team for the remaining three tests in Adelaide and Port Lincoln as Murray gives all of his national squad the chance to impress for Beijing.
In game two, earlier this weekend, the Hockeyroos have come from behind.
Down 1-0 in the 57th minute, the Hockeyroos piled on three unanswered goals in an awesome display after wearing down the Japanese' defence in the second half.
It was a different story in the first with Japan controlling much of the play, and looking far more dangerous in attack. Playing their very defensive style, they looked particularly threatening when counter attacking out of defence.
One such counter attack saw them score their first goal in the ninth minute, catching the Hockeyroos off guard and drawing a penalty corner. In a well worked play Toshie Tsukui positioned herself front and centre, deflecting a strike over the committed Cronk in the box.
And while the score remained unchanged at the break it could very well have been worse with Japan squandering a number of opportunities in attack.
After half time the Hockeyroos lifted their game, controlling the ball out of defence and through the midfield and creating more opportunities in attack. Against a stacked defence though, Australia found it difficult to break through, continually outnumbered in the crowded circle.
With 13 minutes left to play though Madonna Blyth made her way through heavy traffic before dishing off to Teneal Attard close to goal who was able to get enough on the ball to get it past the keeper for the equaliser and her first international goal.
Five minutes later, the Hockeyroos hit the lead after Hudson beat several defenders into the circle and managed to draw a foul. The resulting play saw Lambert's strike beautifully deflected in by Rivers on the right post for a 2-0 lead.
It became 3-0 in the 67th minute when the Hockeyroos received a free hit outside the circle. A beautifully timed Hudson strike ended with Angie Lambert at full stretch, deflecting the ball on the right post for a 3-1 win.
"I was happy to come away with the win," said national coach, Frank Murray.
"We were a bit lucky in that first half, they missed some really good opportunities. But we fought our way back and got on top in the second half but had to work very hard. They're a very tough, very disciplined team."
"I was very pleased with the form of Teneal Attard tonight. She's a defender we're turning into a forward and I thought tonight she did exceptionally well. Nikki Hudson also played well and is finding some good form while Angie Lambert I thought played well also."
Source: Hockey Australia
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