Trio of corners ends New Zealand's hopes despite their best ever Olympic Games
Bronze medal match: New Zealand vs Great Britain 1-3 (half-time: 0-0)
Great Britain claimed their first women’s Olympic medal since 1992 as their penalty corner machine put paid to New Zealand’s brave efforts, themselves producing their best ever performance at the Games.
The hosts pulled all their switches out of the bag for Alex Danson, Crista Cullen and Sarah Thomas to all chip in gleefully received second half goals. In doing so, they recorded their second medal since women’s hockey was brought into the Games in 1980.
The first-half ended scoreless with Britain setting most of the tempo but struggling to find their forward runners in the circle. When they did, Hannah MacLeod and Alex Danson raised the crowd’s decibel levels, winning a couple of corners but Bianca Russell produced two decent saves to keep out Crista Cullen.
New Zealand, meanwhile, were lively down the right flank with Krystal Forgesson creating a couple of chances. From Stacey Michelsen’s lay-off, she struck the outside of the goal while she found Cullen’s foot to win her side’s only corner a minute before the break. The deflection move between Clarissa Eshuis and Charlotte Harrison did not quite connect.
And the bruised Katie Glynn – her stitch-protecting head-gear developing a fan club of its own – came within centimetres of earning the lead 40 seconds into the second half.
Cathryn Finlayson’s left wing charge bounced her way and she wrong-footed Beth Storry but the ball bounced onto the face of the post just as the kiwi striker began to celebrate.
From there, however, GB were in the box seat and a wealth of second half penalty corners eventually took their toll. Danson won her side’s third from which the wide push-out created a brilliant angle for captain Kate Walsh to push to the flick spot where Danson was sliding in. Her touch was perfect and created a lead her side were not to relinquish.
The game was made safe with two more corner goals between the 59th and 63rd minutes as Cullen took the direct route and, amid a whirlwind phase, MacLeod won a corner which Walsh again located a deflector, this time Sarah Thomas on the mark.
New Zealand got a consolation when Michelsen tipped in an Eshuis’ drive. Their tournament performance proved the biggest rise from one tournament to the next, jumping from 12th in 2008 in Beijing to fourth this time round – a result which also lifts them to third in the world rankings.
But this was GB’s party in front of their raucous fans, equaling their best ever Olympic result as the union jacks waved proudly.
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