BRITISH GAS TEAM WIN PRELIMINARY GROUP
09 Jul 2009
The third day of the LEN Women’s European Nations Trophy was memorable both for the attendance of Prince William and for some very exciting matches as teams battled for a place in the quarter finals.
The British Gas team, boosted by the support of the Prince, were looking to build on an unbeaten start to the tournament in their previous two matches against Belarus and Portugal.
A victory would guarantee the British team would finish top of Group B and see them progress straight to the semi-final stages of the competition.
The British Gas team started the match strongly to finish the first quarter with a 5-1 lead.
The team produced some excellent forward play to put pressure on the Slovakian defence with Chloe Wilcox adding a further five goals to her already impressive tally of 14.
Despite losing their captain Ros Griffiths following three exclusions the team continued to push on in the final quarter to close out the game with a final score of 17-6.
Captain Ros Griffiths said: “It was wonderful to have Prince William here. The whole experience was very different and we had fantastic support but once you’re in the water you don’t really notice as you have a job to do.
“We all worked really well as a team today and are really positive about the semi finals now. There are a number of areas which we can improve on but we’re feeling confident for the next game.”
The result sees them finish as winners of Group B and progress straight to the semi-final stages of the competition, earning them a well deserved rest day tomorrow.
Earlier in the day a close affair was expected the first and second placed teams in Group A, Czech Republic and Croatia, went head to head.
Both teams were unbeaten so far and looking to finish top of the group and progress straight to the semi-final stages.
The Czech Republic put pressure on early in the match and, with a Croatian defence allowing them too much space, raced to a 5-0 lead within the first quarter.
Croatia’s highest scorer Anamarija Reic-Kranjac finally got one on the score sheet for her team to begin a fight-back for Croatia.
The furious pace which the Czech Republic had begun with dropped slightly in the second half as a more confident Croatian team brought the match closer.
Goals from Lucie Votavova and Veronika Bartunkova took the Czech Republic clear to finish the match with a 16-13 victory. Both girls finished the game with impressive goal tallies to leave them amongst the tournament’s top scorers with 14 and 12 respectively.
Bartunkova said: “It was a tremendously physical match. We came out faster and better in the first half but fights were starting to break out as the match went on and it became more physical.”
Despite being among the tournament top scorers so far Bartunkova played down the importance of her personal goal tally: “I love games where everyone scores. It is not important to me to be the top scorer, it is more important for the team to do well. We really want to go all the way to the final now.”
The second match of the day saw Portugal take on a Belarus team without a victory in the competition so far.
Belarus made a very confident start to the match putting early pressure on the Portuguese defence to end the first half with a surprise 5-2 lead.
Portugal came out fast in the second half looking for an early goal to reduce the Belarus lead. Their tactics paid off quickly with three goals bringing Belarus back to 5-5. Goals for both sides left the match finely balanced at 6-6 at the end of the third quarter.
A frantic final quarter saw both teams attacking, determined to secure the victory. Lapses in the Belarus defence allowed Portugal to score three to pull out a 9-6 lead.
Belarus fought back hard, but in the end could not quite put back the deficit to end the game with a 10-8 defeat. This leaves them bottom of group B with no victories at the end of the preliminary group matches.
Portugal’s Nadia Mariani said: “We didn’t play as well as we should have, but we got the win which is the important thing.
“They were stronger than we expected so hopefully it is enough to get us a good draw”
Ukraine and Switzerland were both searching for their first win of the tournament today so the match was set-up to be a battle.
The Ukrainians led from the start looking for shots at every moment and finished the first half with an 11-5 lead.
Pulling away further during the third period, Ukraine proved that their offence was too strong for the Swiss team.
Switzerland’s star player, Erika Brunner, was given little opportunity to play her own game managing to score just once for her country.
The Swiss were unable to overcome superb attacking play from Ukraine, whose Anastasiya Kotova landed six goals in the back of the net during the match to help her team to a 22-9 victory.
Switzerland will now face Belarus in the 7th/8th position play-offs tomorrow and Ukraine will progress to the quarter-finals.
Tickets for the event are still available from the Manchester Aquatics Centre and cost as little as £5 for adults and £3 for concessions.
The LEN Women's European Nations Trophy is an eight team tournament for female, European national teams. The event takes place from the 7th to the 12th of July 2009 and consists of a preliminary round, quarter finals, semi finals and the final. Each team usually plays one match per day and the winner is declared on the final day of competition.
For further details contact Lauren Sanderson, ASA/British Swimming Media Assistant, on 07795 251917 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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