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Hockey - 21. February 2016.

Great Britain downed by Australia in final test

Australia 3 (2)
Georgina Morgan 5 (PC)
Emily Smith 27 (FG)
Grace Stewart 35 (FG)

Great Britain 2 (0)
Sophie Bray 55 (FG)
Joie Leigh 57 (PC)





A late charge from Great Britain was not quite enough to prevent Danny Kerry's side going down to a 3-2 defeat in the final test of the series against Australia. Trailing 3-0 going into the final quarter GB scored twice through Sophie Bray and Joie Leigh but they were unable to complete a stunning comeback as the clock ran out. Australia's goals came from Georgina Morgan, Emily Smith and Grace Stewart and with the win the hosts took the six match series 2-1.

Australia showed their attacking intent from the off and won a penalty corner in the first minute. Jodie Kenny took the strike at goal but it was charged down by the runner. From the resultant restart Maddie Hinch was then called upon to smother from Mariah Williams. Sophie Bray made the first threat on the Hockeyroos' goal but her diagonal pass was just out of reach of the diving Shona McCallin and then at the other end Hinch had to be alert to block a close range shot from Ashleigh Nelson.
There was nothing the Great Britain goalkeeper could do in the fifth minute however as Georgina Morgan buried a fierce penalty corner to give the hosts the lead. Australia's high press created another clear chance later in the quarter. Georgie Parker found herself clean through but Hinch made a superb save to keep the score to 1-0. Great Britain hunted for an equaliser and Ellie Watton dispossessed Anna Flanagan. She found Helen Richardson-Walsh whose cross was diverted goalwards by Bray but flashed just wide of the far post. Bray then tested Ashlee Wells' reflexes with a stinging backhand strike just before quarter time but despite some good attacking play Great Britain trailed at the end of the first period.
Madonna Blyth picked out Gabrielle Nance at the far post for the first chance of the second quarter but once again, Hinch was alert, saving well from the Hockeyroos forward. Bray continued to threaten the home defence, setting up Susannah Townsend for a shot at goal which Wells had to save but then three minutes before the break Blyth's pass was touched in by Emily Smith to make it 2-0 going into the half time interval.
Bray almost set up Townsend in the first minute of the second half but the Canterbury star couldn't quite get the shot away to beat Wells. Great Britain built a good spell of pressure but then in the 35th minute Grace Stewart pounced on a loose ball in the circle to slam in the third goal for the home side slightly against the run of play. Australia forced another penalty corner with three minutes left in the quarter. Flanagan took the shot but Hinch was down well to her right to make the save. Kenny took the next penalty corner but her flick was brilliantly cleared off the line by Helen Richardson-Walsh.
Great Britain came out for the final quarter with an increased intensity and another Bray run forced Wells into a good stop at her near post. Four minutes into the quarter Danny Kerry's side won their first penalty corner. Giselle Ansley took the shot but Australia defended well and cleared the danger. With five minutes left to play a lovely move from back to front brought Great Britain back into the contest. Leigh threaded the ball through to Bray who beat the goalkeeper with a splendid finish to make it 3-1. With the momentum shifting, Great Britain forced another penalty corner. Despite the move breaking down, Georgie Twigg, winning her 50th Great Britain cap, beat the goalkeeper allowing Leigh to finish from close range to set up a grandstand finish. Danny Kerry's side threw everything at the hosts but the clock just beat them and they lost 3-2.

Kate Richardson-Walsh:
"We can take a lot of positives from the series. That was probably our best performance today. We've not put in our best displays in the first five games so we can take from this that if we were able to stay level with Australia when not playing our best, hopefully when we are at our best we can beat them.
The next six months are really busy. We have lots of games so we'll be match ready for the Olympics. We have some recovery tomorrow before we fly home and then back in the gym in a few days. Not too much rest as we're back into the training for Rio!"

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