LONDON (AFP) –
Australia’s men scored a deserved 3-1 win over Great Britain which earned them the hockey bronze medal and extended their Olympic medal-winning sequence to six, the longest of any country.
The Australians often looked like the world’s best side — as many people believe they are — and recovered well from the great disappointment of losing three goals in the last 20 minutes to Germany in Thursday’s semi-finals, which cost them a place in the final.
They also let slip a 3-0 lead to Great Britain at the pool stage, but there was little likelihood of anything similar happening this time.
They created a hatful of opportunities with their open and direct play, and could have won by more.
“We went for them, and we were relentless for the full 70 minutes. Today we were better because we held the ball better,” said Australia star Jamie Dwyer.
“Against Germany we didn’t hold the ball for long enough and that’s what let us down. It’s just unfortunate that we didn’t make the final after such a successful four years.”
Britain’s consolation was that their performance indicated a recovery, in their case from the 9-2 thrashing by The Netherlands, which equalled their biggest Olympic defeat and which coach Jason Lee called “embarrassing”.
Australia have had by far the most field goal attempts in these Olympics, and their first goal, after 17 minutes, showed why.
A fast break, a direct through ball to Dwyer brought a sharply deceptive turn by Australia’s best player, who then delivered a deft little pass along the edge of the penalty circle, allowing time for Simon Orchard to get in a clumping shot which bulged the roof of the net.
It was against the run of the play when the British equalised 12 minutes later.
James Tindall took a penalty corner, edged unobtrusively towards the near post and when the ball was played back to him, nudged it cleverly in.
Australia have also had the most penalty corner chances of any country in these Olympics, and got right on top during a lengthy spell in the second half which they earned five penalty corners and Britain were just hanging on.
With the third of these Australia reclaimed the lead when Dwyer’s first shot was well saved by ‘keeper James Fair, only for the ball to hop up kindly for him to knock in the rebound in mid-air.
By now Fair had too much to do. He saved brilliantly from a Tim Deavin rocket, and saved again a couple of minutes later again from Dwyer, only for the ball this time to ricochet to Kieran Govers, who, waist high, smacked it in to make it 3-1.
The British played the last five minutes without the gallant Fair, using eleven outfield players instead, but the resulting territorial dominance brought only pressure and half-chances.
India lost their sixth game out of six when a 3-2 defeat to South Africa condemned them to 12th and last place in the tournament.
It was the first time that the eight-time champions had gone through an Olympics without winning a match.
Andrew Cronje gave South Africa an eighth-minute lead before Sandeep Singh levelled six minutes later.
Timothy Drummond, in the 33rd minute, and Lloyd Norris-Jones, after 64 minutes, gave South Africa a two-goal cushion before Dharmavir Singh reduced the margin for India in the 66th.
Belgium scored their first Olympic win over Spain since the Montreal Games 36 years ago as two goals from Tom Boon helped them to a 5-2 win and a final placing of fifth.