NEW Zealand's bold bid for an Olympic bronze medal ended in despair today.
They lost to Britain 3-1 in the game to decide third and fourth placings.
And they chose a bad day to put in one of their poorer performances of the Games tournament.
Playing in front of a packed arena of 16,000, and boisterous partisan support for the hosts, New Zealand were slow out of the blocks in the first half, in contrast to most of their starts at the tournament.
Players looked sluggish, passing and trapping were sloppy and possession given away too easily.
They survived two first half penalty corners to Britain, one of which goalkeeper Bianca Russell deftly blocked, one was slapped just wide by Christa Cullen, and only got their first in the final seconds of the half, a set move involving Clarissa Eshuis and Charlotte Harrison didn't come off.
In the second half, the Black Sticks began better and should have been ahead inside the first minute.
Good work from Cathryn Finlayson down the left and a smart cross was deflected past British goalkeeper Elizabeth Storry by striker Katie Glynn.
However, as if in slow motion, the ball rolled gently onto the post and back out.
When New Zealand allowed a high, bouncing pass to elude their defence on the left, it led to a third British penalty corner, and the lead.
Captain Kate Walsh slapped her shot hard and striker Alex Danson sprawled forward to deflect the ball into the New Zealand goal.
The game fell away from New Zealand as further goals from penalty corners - the first a direct shot by key player Cullen which beat Russell on her right side, and then by Sarah Thomas seven minutes from the end, deflecting a drive by captain Kate Walsh.
New Zealand's finishing position is their best at an Olympics, bettering the sixth placings from Los Angeles (1984), Sydney (2000) and Athens (2004).
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