Despite a gallant performance, Great Britain went down to a 3-1 defeat by the world’s number one ranked side Australia in this afternoon’s Bronze Medal match at the Riverbank Arena.
Iain Lewers had equalised for Great Britain in the 29th minute, cancelling out Simon Orchard’s 17th minute opening goal for the Australians, but second half strikes from Jamie Dwyer and Kieran Govers were the difference between the two sides in the end as Australia pipped Great Britain to the Bronze Medal.
Great Britain finished fourth in the London 2012 Olympics hockey competition, which is a reflection of their world ranking, and despite the disappointment of today’s result the side can be proud of their efforts following a first Olympic semi-final appearance since 1988.
Following the match, Great Britain Head Coach Jason Lee said, “The truth is we’ve got a bad taste in our mouth from the semi-final result and we certainly wanted to come into the bronze medal game and just play like ourselves, which is total commitment to try and play attacking hockey. I think we largely delivered that.”
“We had aspirations, probably dreams, of a medal, whereas in regards to Australia, I think everybody had expectations that they’d be in the big game today. I still class them as the best team in the world. It was daunting for us, I must admit, to face this game against them after the 9-2 loss. So I’m very proud with how we played throughout the game and on a different day it could have been a different result. I think it’s a fair reflection of where we stand.”
Defences were firmly on top in the opening period of the first half, but in the 15th minute Great Britain were denied a fantastic opportunity to open the scoring. Great Britain captain Barry Middleton was given space on the right flank following East Grinstead midfielder Ashley Jackson’s pass, but his cross was brilliantly cleared away from danger by Joel Carrol’s diving intervention as Surbiton’s James Tindall lurked at the back post ready to take advantage.
Two minutes later, it was Australia who found the opening goal. Jamie Dwyer cut inside from the left-hand touchline and his pass found Simon Orchard at the top of the circle. The Australian midfielder unleashed a powerful drive, which Cannock goalkeeper James Fair could only deflect into the opposite side of the goal to give Australia a 1-0 advantage in the 17th minute.
Australia nearly doubled their lead in the 22nd minute when Glenn Turner’s pass reached Kieran Govers inside the circle where his shot was partly stopped by Fair and Loughborough Students’ Richard Smith cleared the ball off the line.
As the first half wore on, Great Britain were beginning to enjoy more possession of the ball and a surging run from midfield by Old Loughtonians’ Harry Martin in the 28th minute forced a foot infringement inside the circle by Fergus Kavanagh. The resulting penalty corner was injected by Iain Lewers and Jackson’s cleverly disguised pass diverted the ball back to the East Grinstead defender, who beat Nathan Burgers from close range to claim his first goal for Great Britain and level the score at 1-1.
Great Britain almost took the lead in the 31st minute when Jackson’s exquisite pass in behind the Australian defence found Surbiton’s Matt Daly bearing in on goal. However, his attempt to release a shot on target was denied by a strong tackle from an Australian defender.
On the stroke of half-time, Turner won a penalty corner after his fantastic dive and outstretched shot was saved by Fair, only for the re-bound to hit Lewers’ foot. Fair made an excellent save from the subsequent attempt on goal by Christopher Ciriello, leaving the two teams level at 1-1 when the half-time hooter sounded.
The second half yielded a number of penalty corner opportunities for Australia and in the 48th minute they eventually made one of their set-plays count when Smith was penalised for a foot infringement. Fair made a great save from Matt Gohdes’ strike but the ball bounced up off his helmet for Dwyer to steal in and tap the ball into the open goal, giving Australia the lead at 2-1.
Australia almost claimed a third goal in the 52nd minute when Russell Ford dispatched a fizzing effort towards the top right hand corner of the net, only for Fair to make an outstanding save and clear the ball out of play for a long corner.
The Australians were not going to be denied for much longer though and they made life difficult for Great Britain when they grabbed their third goal of the game in the 57th minute. Dwyer was given time to turn in the circle and he launched a shot that Fair could only parry and Govers was on hand to net the re-bound and give Australia a 3-1 advantage.
Tried as they might, Australia’s solid defence denied Great Britain’s valiant attempts to get back into the game. Burgers made smarts save from Daly and Clarke in the last five minutes as Australia kept their two goal lead in tact to secure the Bronze Medal with a 3-1 victory.
Speaking after the match, Great Britain Captain Barry Middleton said, “It’s hard to say right now, as I’m tired and emotional, but all the guys have felt pretty amazing throughout the two or three weeks that we’ve been here.”
“It’s great to see the crowds we’ve had supporting us and hockey. The Aussies have been playing at 8:30 in the morning and there’s a full house. I’ve been in many countries where people support the home team but for us to get the crowds we have had for every game in this tournament has been amazing. It shows how good and big the sport can be over here. I just hope that the way we’ve played – we always wanted to be exciting – has done the country proud and got hockey out to people.”
“It’s been pretty special for us. I think you can see it in the emotions of the guys at the end of the game and during those laps of honour. Even when we were 9-1 down [against the Netherlands on Thursday], I heard the crowd chanting ‘we want two’, which was pretty great support. It has honestly been amazing but it’s a pretty flat feeling right now. We aimed for something, we dreamt of something, but we didn’t quite get it. However, I think we’re realistic and hopefully we’ll look back in the weeks and months and realise we did ourselves proud, even if we didn’t quite reap what we wanted.”
Great Britain and Surbiton forward James Tindall also added, “We put in a good performance, it just wasn’t to be. We tried everything and it didn’t quite fall for us. We were a bit unlucky, but that’s sport. They took their chances and when we got to the other end, it just didn’t fall for us. I don’t think there’s too big a gap in the quality of the teams. It’s never nice to come fourth at an Olympic games but we’ve just got to say thank you to the crowd for always being there for every single game.”
AUSTRALIA 3-1 (HT:1-1) GREAT BRITAIN
Australia Goal Scorers: Simon Orchard 17’ (F), Jamie Dwyer 48’ (PC), Kieran Govers 57’ (F)
Great Britain Goal Scorer: Iain Lewers 29’ (PC)
Great Britain Hockey Press Release