Australian Men’s Water Polo Team progress to round two of World Championships
22 July 2017
WATER POLO: The Australian Men’s Water Polo Team, Aussie Sharks, have progressed through to the next stage of the FINA World Championships in Budapest, despite going down to Italy 5-13 in the final preliminary round.
The Aussie Sharks finished third in their pool but a strong performance against France was enough to secure them a spot in the second round where they’ll meet Brazil.
For the Australians they’ll have something to prove when they face off with Brazil, who claimed a one-point win over the Aussies in round one of the Rio Olympics.
The Italians known for their physicality didn’t leave anything to chance in the final pool stage, coming out strong against the new look Aussie Sharks team.
Australian Head Coach Elvis Fatovic gave an honest assessment of his team’s performance and what they can take into the next must win game against Brazil.
“We played the first half and the last three minutes badly. We didn’t respect possession of the ball and the Italians are too experienced and they punished us.
“But the third quarter and fourth quarter we played defence really good, and that’s something that will encourage us for the next game which for us is the most important game of the Tournament,” said Fatovic.
It was a fierce battle from the outset. Italy took an early 2-0 lead in the first quarter before Australian Team Captain Aaron Younger striked back. A quick reply on the post in extra man for the Italians took the score to 3-1, before Aussie Tim Putt tapped one in from two metres out to be within one goal of the Italians.
Ed Slade in goals made crucial big saves early in the piece to keep the Aussies in with a fight. But with two strong goals from centre forward before the end of the first quarter the Italians took a comfortable 5-2 lead.
The second quarter saw the Aussies kept scoreless, while Italy were able to secure another three goals to extend the the score line to 8-2 at half time.
The Aussies were first to score in the opening third quarter with James Fannon executing in extra man. It wasn’t long before the Italians got a penalty goal but it was then Andrew Ford with the long bomb that took the Aussies to 4-9.
A packed Margaret Island venue saw the local Hungarian fans throwing their support behind the Aussies – they needed Australia not to give Italy an 11 goal differential to allow hosts Hungary to finish on top of Group B. The Hungarians chanting Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi was bringing down the house!
Before the end of the third quarter it was Lachy Edwards with the rebound tip in from a Nathan Power blocked shot that saw Australia 5-10 at the end of the third quarter.
While the Aussies dominated in the third quarter, the final three minutes of the last quarter saw the Aussies running out of steam on the home stretch, making way for an experienced Italian outfit to capitalize with another three goals and keeping the Sharks scoreless.
It wasn’t the finish to the pool rounds the Aussie Sharks had hoped for but their chance for redemption in the cross over games will come on Monday 24 July 1:30am AEST (Sunday 5:30pm Budapest, Hungary).
Water Polo Australia