London 2012: Dutch maestros destroy GB hopes of gold
Team GB 2 Holland 9
Great Britain’s men were put to the sword by a display of Total Hockey from the brilliant Dutch tonight.
The hosts had wanted to play an exciting, attacking brand of hockey themselves during these Olympics, but they were given a lesson in finishing as Holland set up a gold-medal meeting with Germany.
GB will meet Australia in the bronze-medal play-off and will need to regroup quickly after such a heavy defeat.
The two sides went into this semi-final boasting unbeaten records. But GB’s two wins and three draws were overshadowed by Holland’s five successive wins and, in a high tempo start, Robbert Kemperman surged into the British circle in the opening minutes, before scuffing a reverse stick shot behind.
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Ben Hawes skipped into the circle at the other end moments later, but could not get a telling shot off as the Dutch defence recovered well.
And although Holland had the ball in the back of James Fairs’ goal in the sixth minute, there had not been a touch from a stick inside the circle and it was ruled out.
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Klaas Vermeulen had to be helped off the field shortly after, following a heavy fall, but the Dutch went close when Valentin Verga was played into space, after a mix-up between Ashley Jackson and Alastair Wilson, only for Fairs to react quickly and block the shot with his pads.
The respite was brief for Britain as Holland earned the first penalty corner of the night in the eighth minute and Roderick Weusthof sent a drag flick into the top right corner of the net.
After Jonty Clarke’s reverse was kicked out as GB looked for an immediate response, the Dutch won a second corner in the 13th minute.
And, although the routine broke down, the ball was returned into the circle and Weusthof fired it through the legs of Fairs to put the Dutch 2-0 up.
GB had fought back from three goals down to earn a draw with the Aussies in the group phase and, following good work from Old Loughts youngster Harry Martin, the hosts earned their first set-piece of the night midway through the first half.
With the crowd launching into cheers of “GB, GB” the ball was injected to Ashley Jackson, who whipped his shot inside the left-hand post to halve the deficit.
It proved a rare highlight on a difficult night, as Surbiton’s Matt Daly picked out captain Barry Middleton to the left of the Dutch goal and he deflected the ball over the crossbar.
Holland had the ball in the net again on 20 minutes, knocked in by a high stick after it had looped up off the pads of Fairs, but a penalty corner had already been awarded. GB could not escape, though, as Mink van der Weerden sent a low shot from the top of the circle squirming past Fairs and Middleton to make it 3-1.
A brilliant save by Fairs denied Teun de Nooijer a fourth Dutch goal as the crowd tried to catch their breath.
But there was no denying the men in orange shortly before the interval when Verga surged into the circle and found Weusthof, who picked out Rogier Hofman to centre for Billy Bakker to apply the finishing touch from close range.
It was stunning, brutal, one-touch stuff which tore the British defence to shreds.
The hosts won a penalty corner at the start of the second half, but Jackson’s shot was charged down and Middleton’s reverse attempt appeared to flash off Kemperman’s foot.
The Dutch challenged the umpire’s decision but, following a video review, the original decision to award another penalty corner stood.
The Brits could not take advantage, however, as Jackson’s shot rattled off the shin pads of Hofman and Daly flashed an angled shot wide after Clarke won possession on the right.
James Tindall’s attempt to find Middleton on a 2-on-1 break was cut out and the Dutch showed the home side how it was done when De Nooijer got into space on the right wing and teed up Bakker to convert from close to the penalty spot.
Worse was to come as Bob de Voogd thundered a shot goalwards and, when it dropped off the body of Fairs, De Nooijer touched it over the line from a matter of inches to make it 6-1.
With only Richard Smith back in defence, a long ball upfield found Floris Evers, who worked his way around Fairs before flicking home number seven.
And that became eight when Bakker worked his way along the byline and sent a speculative reverse-stick effort whizzing past the startled Fairs and inside the far post to complete his hat-trick, with 20 minutes still to play.
Weusthof made it a treble of his own with a top-corner finish from a penalty corner, 10 minutes from time, as the arena PA fittingly blasted out Dizzie Rascal’s ‘Bonkers’.
And Britain were denied a reply from Jackson, which found the top left corner, as a Dutch defender had broken the line.
The offender was banished to the halfway line, but GB’s next corner routine was blocked, much to their frustration.
There was a late consolation for Surbiton’s Robert Moore, who deflected home a Glenn Kirkham hit from the left, but chants of ‘You’re not singing any more’ and ‘We’re gonna win 10-9’ were extremely tongue-in-cheek from the British fans.