Australia thump Great Britain's men's volleyball team

 

Australia came out on top of their Ashes battle with Great Britain at Earls Court tonight, with their size and strength too much for the host nation to handle.

With the British women having won a first-ever Olympic clash last night, hopes were high that their male counterparts would follow suit today, with the Volleyroos arguably their closest-matched side in the pool.

But with Australia's brutal defence forming a wall of steel at the net, Britain's strike players were unable to feed off what was, at best, inconsistent setting, as what appeared to be Harry Brokking's squad's best chance of getting a Games win passed them by under the watching eye of London 2012 chairman Lord Coe.

They still have three group games left, but with Italy, Poland and Argentina ahead of them, an improbable two wins are required for a quarter-final berth to even be a possibility.

With the brilliant 6ft 11in Thomas Edgar omnipresent and Igor Yudin and Travis Passier providing more than ample support, it actually became something of a cruise control mission for the Australians, who will now fancy their own chances of progressing to the last eight.

They lost to Argentina on Sunday and, unlike Great Britain, appeared to have learned from their mistakes, hitting consistently from the net and cutting out their unforced errors close in. On the flip side, much like in the Bulgaria game, GB started slowly and a quick slump to 4-1 behind - mainly owing to Edgar - prompted Brokking to call an early time-out.

His words were lost however, as four more points were lost upon the resumption, with Adam White's stunning serve causing the hosts all manner of reception problems while Bakare, so hit-and-miss on Sunday, made two costly errors to 1-8.

That became 4-12, with Passier doing some damage down the middle, with Britain's block virtually non-existent.

Brokking reacted by hooking off captain Ben Pipes, Dami Bakare and Mark Plotyczer for old heads such as Jason Haldane and Andy Pink, but the changes made no impact as Australia's power from the back of the court carried them through to a crushing 25-15 set win.

Importantly for Brokking's men they stayed in touch at the start of the second but, crucially, allowed Australia to get a mini-jump on them come the first time-out, with Bakare missing a spike that sent the score to 6-8.

Pipes was talking to the referee after a contentious block call - not the first to go against the home side - shortly after, but they turned 7-10 into 10-10 thanks to some brilliant hitting from Plotyczer.

Pipes then produced two wonder serves to open up a two-point lead - frittered by reception errors - but Mark McGivern's spike got them back ahead at 16-15.

Three critical service errors allowed the Australians to move back ahead, and when Edgar shut down Plotyczer, they were 21-18 in front. That quickly extended through to 25-18, with Britain closing the set with six service errors to their name.

With an almighty job on to save the game, Brokking's side needed a lightning start to the third set, but as in both of the others, they first went to the sidelines behind, this time 6-8 as French powered a spike long.

A Yudin ace made it 6-10 and as Edgar ran amok, an 8-14 scoreline quickly emerged.

Despite the efforts of Joel Miller off the bench, GB had no answer to Australia's impenetrable defence and even a four-point streak could not haul them back into it, as Jon Uriarte's men took the set 20-25.

PA

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