Hockey: Billy bags hat-trick as Team GB are victims of Orange crush
Netherlands 9 Great Britain 2
The Dutch have not invented the term yet but it was nothing less than totaalhockey which blew away four years of planning for British men's hockey at a stroke tonight.
Jason Lee's side had been watching a film called 'Miracle' before this tournament though they did not realise quite how much they would be in need of one as they pursued their first Olympic final place in nearly 25 years.
It was over by half-time, the destroyer in chief Billy Bakker completing an enervating 22-minute hat-trick which left Lee's side 4-1 behind and seeking a respectability they never found. The Netherlands will play Germany in the final after their remarkable 4-2 win over Australia.
British talk before the game had hinted at throttling the life out of the Dutch and hitting them with their fast counter-attacking game. Instead the game took a diametrically opposite flow: the Dutch pressing with such a high line that Britain could barely emerge from their own quarters.
The Dutch nation has become entranced by the progress of their teams: two million people watched the women progress to their final tomorrow against Argentina.
Ben Hawes rescued him, though Weusthof sent the Dutch on the way with a penalty flick in only the eighth minute. He doubled it within five minutes when Britain's lax defending had allowed him to latch on to the ball after a confused Dutch short corner. Lee says that one of the weaknesses of Ashley Jackson, the fulcrum of his side, is a tendency only to perform when the team performs and that much was true of his part in this annihilation. The single bright spot belonged to him – a coolly converted corner flick, his sixth goal of this tournament, after Harry Martin's fine attacking run.
But the hope was shortlived. Mink van der Weerden converted a penalty of his own, and it was looking a rout barely beyond the half-hour when a one-touch move delivered the ball to Bakker to open his night's account.
Lee's men did briefly rally after half-time but then came the Olympian avalanche, and Britain's biggest defeat to the Dutch in 48 matches. The evergreen Teun de Nooijer crossed for Bakker to make it five, de Nooijer pounced on Fair's flying save for six, captain Floris Evers clipped over Fair for seven, Bakker's stunning reverse shot strike made it eight and Weusthof flicked another penalty to complete Dutch proceedings. The best that can be said of the second half was some excellent fan banter. "We want three," demanded the die-hards, when Rob Moore had added a second.
It was too punishing for Lee's players even to nurse what-might-have-beens. The good news is that GB Hockey has invested time and money in helping to build out of the unmistakable popularity of the fast-moving sport which this Olympic run has brought.
But things may get worse before they get better. The bruised Australians lie in wait in Saturday's bronze medal match.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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