A last-gasp draw against the USA was the scare Australia needed in their Olympic campaign, halfback Charlotte Caslick says.
The Aussies were trailing late in their final pool match before a Chloe Dalton conversion evened things up, keeping Australia’s top seeding going into the finals stages.
Caslick said the side lacked composure against the USA, rattled by the Americans’ physicality, but had learned from that reality check.
“This morning we started a little bit slow and we obviously improved in that second game and I think we just brought a more physical game into that,” she said.
“We definitely learned from the first game and I think you’ve got to have those games within the tournament to make yourself better for the business end.”
Caslick said the return of star Emilee Cherry into the side as the USA match went on calmed their nerves.
“I think we lost a little bit of composure there but towards the end of the game we showed that we can be composed and you bring on a player like Emilee Cherry and the whole thing changes,” she said.
“She’s just one of those players that can settle down under pressure and settles the rest of the team down so I think if you had her there in the first half it would’ve been a little bit different.”
The lesson came to fruition quickly with Australia dispatching of Spain in their quarter-final 24-0, to set up a final four clash against Canada.
Caslick admitted opponents targeted the physical side of the game against the Australians, who generally opt for a fast-paced game plan that utilises the wider channels.
The physical challenge won’t get any easier for Australia in their semi-final, against Canada, one of only two sides to beat the World Series champions this season.
“I think every team that’s going to be playing tomorrow’s going to step to the next level so we have to do that as well,” she said.
“These two teams playing now (in the quarter-final)- France and Canada - are both very physical so I think we’re going to have to get big and get physical in that first game up in the morning.”
Australia takes on Canada in their Olympic semi-final at 3:30am AEST Tuesday morning.
Olympic semi-final draw
Australia v Canada (3.30am AEST)
New Zealand v Great Britain (4am AEST)
Third place playoff (7.30am AEST)
Gold medal match (8am AEST)