THEY played with tremendous heart and determination, but Team GB’s handball team were beaten for the third time on Thursday afternoon when Argentina ran out 32-21 winners at the Copper Box.
Captain Bobby White said his men had targeted the game against the South American team as their best chance of recording an historic first competitive victory, and in the first half an upset looked possible as the goalkeeper from Milton Keynes enjoyed probably his finest game in the red, white and blue.
However, a five minute spell just before half time saw Argentina open up a five-goal lead that would prove crucial, with Team GB going on to lose their third game of London 2012, even if the final scoreline was a little harsh on the home side.
Despite the defeat there were great positives to take from the game for Team GB, not least the fact that the last time the two teams met, Argentina cruised to a 32-15 win.
In front of 6,000 fans at the Copper Box, the home fans were treated to some memorable moments – including three unanswered goals during the first half that saw Team GB claw Argentina’s lead back to just three, prompting a time out from the visitors.
But despite producing easily their best performance of the Games so far, Team GB came up short in the second half and their faint hopes of reaching the quarter finals came to an end with two matches still to play.
Just like in their previous two Olympic defeats to France and Sweden, Team GB began the game well – restricting Argentina to just a two or three shot lead during much of the first 30 minutes.
Robin Garnham, Steven Larsson and Chris Hawkins were at the heart of most Team GB scoring opportunities, but one of the highlights of the game came mid-way through the first half when White pulled off a dramatic penalty save.
At 7-6 and 13-11 down, Team GB threatened to overhaul Argentina’s lead, but missed chances continued to cost them and the South Americans were able to take advantage to extend their lead out to 16-11 by the time the sides swapped ends.
Argentina’s greater experience continued to show in the second half as they edged further ahead, despite the best efforts of White and replacement keeper Jesper Parker.
Team GB went 12 minutes without scoring in the second half as heads started to drop and Argentina’s lead moved into double figures courtesy of nine goals without reply.
A tough, fast and physical game eventually took its toll on Team GB. They did end the game with a bit of a flourish to give the partisan crowd something to cheer about, but after they survived the first half scare, Argentina were worthy winners.