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Brits claim emphatic victory in first European qualifier

29 January 2011

The British Women’s Water Polo Team, powered by British Gas, got their European campaign off to a great start with a convincing 26-1 win over Israel.

Playing in front of a sell-out crowd at the Loughborough University pool, the 13-strong team impressed as they took their first step toward qualification for the 2012 European Championships.

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With Israel posing an unknown prospect the team went into the match cautiously as they took charge early on in the first quarter.

Less than three minutes had passed before Beckie Kershaw put the Brits on the scoreboard from a man-up situation and Chloe Wilcox soon followed suit with a penalty finding the back of the net.

An excellent save from Rosie Morris put Israel on the back foot the Brits took the opportunity to press further, scoring another four goals to end the first quarter six goals clear of Israel.

The start of the second quarter saw a near miss from the Brits as the ball hit the woodwork, but Kershaw’s shot was on target netting her and the British team another.

A steal from Fiona McCann saw the Brits charge with the ball and a quick finishing shot from Wilcox made it 8-0

Goals from Fran Clayton, Angie Winstanley-Smith and captain Fran Leighton saw the half-time whistle blow with Great Britain 13-0 up.

With the Brits pulling away the second half started with a goal from Alex Rutlidge and opportunities for Israel came and went as the British defence remained solid.

Speed and skill from the Brits found them mostly on the offensive and a strong defence with Robyn Nicholls in goal allowed the team to race further ahead finishing the third quarter 18-0 up and with victory within their grasp.

The final quarter saw eight more goals scored by the British team, including two by Frankie Snell, but a last minute lapse in concentration saw Israel find the back of the net ending the match 26-1.

“It was a relief,” said Fiona McCann of the win. “We went in there cautiously not knowing what to expect so the first quarter was very much about using our tactics and working things out.

“Everything went really well for us. The whole team was scoring and playing well and the end result was fantastic.”

With their first win under their belts the team will now have to wait for their next European opportunity on 26th March when they face Ukraine followed by Spain on 30th April. The Brits need a top two finish in the group to qualify for the LEN European Championships in the Netherlands.

“Ukraine and Spain are going to be very different matches,” added McCann. “Ukraine will come at us hard while Spain will have lots of tricks and tactics but we’re optimistic about the matches.”

The team will be back in the water next week as they prepare to contest their next round of Hungarian National League matches against BVSC next weekend.

The athletes selected to represent the British Women’s Water Polo Team, powered by British Gas, are:

Rosie Morris (City of Liverpool), Frankie Snell (West London Penguins), Robyn Nicholls (City of Manchester), Angie Winstanley-Smith (City of Manchester), Chloe Wilcox (City of Manchester), Fran Clayton (City of Liverpool), Fiona McCann (City of Liverpool), Fran Leighton (City of Sheffield), Beckie Kershaw (City of Manchester), Vickie Hawkins (Warley), Alex Rutlidge (City of Manchester), Lisa Gibson (City of Manchester), Ciara Gibson-Byrne (City of Manchester)

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