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Battling defeat in European opener

18th January 2012

The British Gas GBR Women’s Water Polo team fell to a battling defeat in their first European Championship match for 15 years in Eindhoven.

Having qualified for the finals for the first time since 1997, the British women put in a brave performance against major championship regulars Hungary – who lifted the World Championship title as recently as 2005 – before ultimately going down 19–9.

We lost a bit of confidence after having the early advantage but the movement was okay and we can improve for our next match.

Both teams were desperate to begin their campaigns on a positive note and the Hungarians were loathe to take their opponents lightly.

And British head coach Szilveszter Fekete admitted his players hadn't reached top gear in their opener in Eindhoven.

"We're happy to be playing at this level but it was our first game and we were too nervous and missed some possibilities," said former Hungarian international Fekete.

"We lost a bit of confidence after having the early advantage but the movement was okay so hopefully we can improve for our next match.

"It was our first official game for a while as well so missed getting back into it."

British player Rebecca Kershaw added: "In future games, we need to be more clinical in our finishing but there are a lot of positives to take.

"We're going to build on our performance here and look to improve in our next two group matches."

The Brits were in dreamland after taking an early lead through Ciara Gibson-Byrne but Hungary wrestled their way back into the match and quickly built momentum, pulling away to 4-1 at the first break.

Centre forwards Angie Winstanley-Smith and Lisa Gibson both scored from the pit in the second quarter as the British found their feet again.

We're going to build on our performance here and look to improve in our next two matches.

But while Fiona McCann also put away a lob shot in the dying seconds, the Brits struggled to contain the Hungarian attack who added four goals to their tally to lead 8-4 at half-time.

Hungary were determined not to take their foot off the gas and put the result beyond doubt with four unanswered goals in the opening four minutes of the third quarter.

The Brits found their form again as Chloe Wilcox put away a penalty and further goals from captain Fran Leighton and Gibson meant they approached the final quarter trailing 15-7.

Well-placed outside shots from McCann and Frankie Snell ensured the Brits scored in every quarter but their opponents were ruthless in front of the cage once more and added another four to finish the game.

The Brits take on defending champions Russia in their second match of the Championships on Friday.

British Gas GBR Women's Water Polo Team 9 - 19 Hungary (1-4, 3-4, 3-7, 2-4)

GB goalscorers: Lisa Gibson (2), Fiona McCann (2), Angie Winstanley-Smith, Fran Leighton, Ciara Gibson-Byrne, Chloe Wilcox, Frankie Snell

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