Serbia weather spirited British challenge

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Gold-medal favourites Serbia recover from an early deficit to hold off Team GB in their men’s water polo group match at London 2012.

The Brits surprised their well-fancied opponents, leading 4-3 early in the second quarter before Serbia wrestled control of the game to win 21-7.

We're pleased to have been better against these guys but we couldn't maintain our best for a full match

Captain Craig Figes starred for the Brits with a hat-trick while Matt Holland impressed in his first Olympic appearance in goal.

And having seen his team improve on their performance in the opener against Romania, Team GB head coach Cristian Iordache insisted his players had reasons to be proud.

“The first two quarters were really good against the European champions,” said Iordache.

“Unfortunately we don’t have that much experience, but with more time we will be able to offer much better performances.

“Serbia are much older and stronger and they controlled the game in the second half.

“But we’ll learn from every game we play here. The boys try hard, day by day, to improve their level.”

The Brits started with the bit between their teeth, equalizing three times in the opening quarter through Adam Scholefield, a Figes penalty, and then another from Figes at the death.

Minutes later, Team GB were in dreamland as Rob Parker slammed home an outside shot to hand the home side the lead to the delirium of the crowd.

But the Brits taking the lead seemed to stir Serbia into action as they upped their tempo and re-took the lead.

The impressive Ciaran James equalized again for the Brits but the Serbians added another five before the quarter was out to establish dominance, leading 10-5 at the break.

James scored a well-taken second at the start of the third quarter, losing his marker and converting with a cross-cage shot.

But Serbia were quick to snuff out any hopes of a British comeback, capitalizing on a number of man-ups to establish a 16-6 advantage at the end of the third.

There was time for Figes to complete his hat-trick in the final quarter but the Serbs were going for the jugular and added another five goals to see home the match.

“We stepped up and our finishing was way better,” said Scholefield. “We're pleased to have been better against these guys but we couldn't maintain our best for a full match.

“We don't get many opportunities to play against the best teams in the world but we are not doing anything different, we are just doing the same as we do on any trip.”

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