Australia’s women’s water polo team has administered its final sting in its Tokyo 2020 campaign, defeated the Netherlands in the play-off for fifth place. For all your Tokyo 2020 coverage, stay tuned to The Inner Sanctum’s Olympic hub and the Olympics Central.
Palm says ‘You shall not pass’
The Stingers dominated the Dutch from the first score to the last it a show of strong defence and powerful attack.
While the Netherlands won the swim-off, it was the Stingers on the scoreboard first through Bronte Halligan scoring her ninth goal of the Games within the first minute.
The Dutch responded quickly with a score of its own, but it would be their only goal of the first quarter thanks to Gabriella Palm’s incredible work as keeper – she stopped three of four shots on goal in the first quarter.
Keesja Gofers goaled twice in a row before Hannah Buckling added her name to the score sheet, then captain Rowie Webster joined the party to have the Stingers up by four at quarter time.
Knox Knox: Stinger bursts in with buzzer-beater
The Stingers began to dominate every facet of the match, despite having less than half the amount of possession time than the Dutch.
Gofers scored again for the first of the second quarter before the Netherlands were awarded a penalty which they converted.
A great pass from Webster to Matilda Kearns resulted in her first goal of the game, then Bronwen Knox came out of nowhere to score with one second left in the first half.
At halftime, Australia led the Netherlands 8-2.
Dutch defences rises, but so does Stingers’ score
The Dutch defence stepped up in the third quarter and they scored the first goal of the second half, but the Stingers were as strong as they had been all game.
Knox built on her momentum from the second quarter to score another goal, while Palm was an immense force in front of the net.
A foul from Australia’s Bronte Halligan led to a 5m penalty shot for the Netherlands, which results in a much-needed conversion with less than four minutes left on the clock in the third quarter.
Lena Mihalovic took the Stingers’ score to double digits, then Amy Ridge goaled for the first time in the match.
The Stingers held a strong lead at three-quarter time, 11-4.
Aussies awesome in last-match attack
The Netherlands won the last swim-up of the match, but it did not help in the grand scheme of things.
To signal the power home in the last quarter, Stinger Bronte Halligan propelled a long shot through the Dutch defence to score her second goal of the match.
The Netherlands swiftly responded to bring the score to AUS 12 to NED 5.
The Netherlands surprised Australia with a powerful backhand shot on goal, which caught keeper Palm off guard and she could not block it in time. Scores are AUS 12 to NED 6.
With 3:46 left on the clock and Australia up by six goals, the leaders called a time out.
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The Netherlands was winning the final quarter but needed to double its tally for the whole match at that point to be in the game.
Strong defence by the Dutch stopped an Aussie shot on goal, and Dutch coach Arno Havenga called a time out with 3:18 to go in the final quarter to help them settle.
It seems coach Havenga told the Dutch to take every chance they could; five seconds after their time out was called, they shot and scored a huge goal to bring the score to 7-12.
As quick as always, the Stingers responded almost immediately with a fierce goal through Abby Andrews.
The Netherlands made changes with 1:40 left on the clock, then the Stingers switched things up themselves with 39 seconds to go.
To wrap up the scoring, Ridge absolutely pelted the ball to score Australia’s 14th goal, much to her teammates’ delight.
In the battle for fifth place, Australia stormed home to smash the Netherlands, 14-7.
Women’s Water Polo Final Score (full-time):
Australia 14 (K Gofers 3, A Ridge 2, B Halligan 2, B Knox 2, A Andrews 1, L Mihailovic 1, M Kearns 1, R Webster 1, H Buckling 1)
Netherlanads 7 (S van de Kraats 3, V Sevenich 2, M Megens 1, S van der Sloot 1)