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Bristol Central defeat Lancaster to take British title

24th February 2013

Bristol Central were crowned the British Gas Water Polo Champions after defeating Lancaster 11-8 in a physical final match at the Manchester Aquatics Centre.

Lancaster took an early lead, scoring three goals unanswered in the first four minutes of the game before Central fought back with two of their own to put them back in the match.

It was a great team effort, lots of people chipping in with goals and some of our youngsters had the games of their lives this weekend.

With 45 seconds left on the clock, Central called a time out but failed to capitalise on a man up opportunity and the score remained 3-2 at the end of the first quarter.

Central stated their intentions at the start of the second, with Sean Coles scoring on the man up to get back on an even keel with Lancaster and then again to take the lead. Lancaster’s Tom Curwen evened things up but John Sissions put Central back on track and they pulled away.

Craig Figes extended the Central lead at the start of the third with a cross cage goal to give them a three goal cushion. Goalkeeper Ben Alcorn saved a Curwen penalty before Christopher Taylor scored two more for Central; the second a perfect wing to wing pass allowing him plenty of time to score.

Alex Parsonage and Curwen each scored again for Lancaster before the buzzer and with one quarter to go, Central held onto their lead, 9-6.

There was little in the way of goals for the first few minutes of the last quarter but Lancaster finally broke through with a goal from Scott Sharpe. They had the momentum but Parsonage was denied by the woodwork on two crucial occasions before Bristol found their form once again.

A further goal from Bailey gave Bristol Central the victory and the title of British Gas Water Polo Champions.

“To win is a fantastic feeling,” said Craig Figes of Bristol Central. “It has been a tough year for us, we lost our pool time and we have really had to pull together.

“A big thanks to our coach, Greg Harper who has held everyone together whilst we trained in small pools to get here.

“We didn’t expect to do so well in the Super Fives and then to get here and win has been really unexpected.

“It was a great team effort, lots of people chipping in with goals and some of our youngsters had the games of their lives this weekend.”

The third and fourth place playoff between Manchester and Cheltenham was closely fought contest with neither side wanting to lose. Manchester led at the end of the first quarter with a couple of fine shots from Michael Bourne take them 5-4 in front.

Cheltenham came back strongly in the second with three goals without a response. Will Middleton took advantage of a double man up to equalise the game before Cheltenham then took the lead with a goal from Mark Banwell.

Despite Cheltenham opening up a two-goal lead of 7-5, Manchester pulled it back to seven all. Cheltenham nudged ahead before half time to take the score to 8-7 at the break.

There was little between the two sides in the third quarter and despite Cheltenham taking an 11-9 lead, Manchester scored twice before buzzer and it was 11-all with eight minutes to go.

Manchester Olympian Joe O’Regan’s shot into the top corner early in the last quarter proved the crucial moment of the game and they held on to the lead to take third place. The match finished 12-11 to Manchester.

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