Despite leading 2-0 with two minutes left in the second quarter, Australia spent the entire game playing catch-up water polo, levelling at the end of the third period and again eight seconds from time before levelling extra time and needing the shootout for victory.
The scintillating game kept the large Aussie spectator group on the edge of its seats as the Stingers trailed by three goals before Bronwen Knox, who was named to the Media All Star team, scored a penalty goal for 5-3 just before halftime.
Suzie Fraser netted twice in the third period and Kate Gynther scored just after extra for 6-6 to close the period.
Hungary took the lead at the start of the fourth and no goal came until Rebecca Rippon scored after the timeout to level the game with only eight seconds left in the game. Luck had fallen on Australia’s side in this game.
This forced extra time with Bronwen Knox scoring her second and Hungary Agnes Valkai, her third with a lob. A Stingers timeout concocted a Mel Rippon goal on double extra 11 seconds from the horn for 9-8.
It looked like an Aussie win was imminent but Dora Kisteleki scored on extra with 17 seconds left to force the game into a penalty shootout, which Mel Rippon said after the match “made the game interesting”.
This is where Emma Knox made a name for herself, remembering what it was like losing a bronze-medal game in Athens 2004.
Nikita Cuffe had her shot blocked and Anett Gyore hit the left post to open the shootout.
Gemma Beadsworth threw her shot low left into Patricia Horvath’s right arm. Kisteleki scored for 10-9 up.
Bronwen Knox made no mistake for 10-10 and Mercedes Stieber sent hers within range of Knox’s arms.
Kate Gynther netted, as did Aniko Pelle for 11-11.
Mia Santoromito took Australia to 12-11 while Rita Dravucz, so solid all tournament bounced her shot, which Knox deflected over the bar to give Australia the victory and send Greg McFadden diving into the pool.
Danielle De Bruin scored seven goals as the Netherlands defeated the United States of America 9-8 in the gold-medal final.
Kate Gynther was second highest scorer to De Bruijn (17) with 13 goals and Bronwen Knox was equal third with 12. Gemma Beadsworth was 10th equal with nine.
Olympic Games, Beijing, day 6:
Bronze medal: Australia 12 (K Gynther 3, R Rippon 2, M Rippon, G Beadsworth, B Knox) Hungary 11 in penalty shootout (FT: 7-7. ET: 9-9. Pens: 3-2). Gold medal: Netherlands 9 USA 8.
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photo Cheltenham Racecourse
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