Brits held by in-form Russia
17 December 2013
The British Gas GBR Women’s Water Polo team gave in-form Russia a scare in a nail-biting FINA Women’s Water Polo World League qualifier in Manchester.
Competing in their first match since the 2013 World Championships, the British women stood toe-to-toe with their Eastern European opponents before succumbing to a 12-9 defeat (2-2, 3-2, 3-3, 4-2).
Russia – runners-up in the 2013 World League – came into the match off the back of victories over Canada and Greece at last week’s Hospital Cup in USA.
"It’s been good for us but we understand that we have something to do to get better and better," - Head coach Kostas VamvakarisIn contrast, the Brits had just two days preparation as a squad under their new-look coaching team of head Kostas Vamvakaris and assistant Theo Noussis.
But there was little to choose between the two sides on the pitch, the Brits cancelling out Russian goals to draw even at the first interval and trail by a single effort following the second and third quarters.
A final quarter flurry put paid to the home team’s hopes of an upset but as attention turns to the Brits’ European Championship qualification group in January, Vamvakaris was adamant there were positives to take from his first game in charge.
"I’m very happy about the girls and the team because we progressed well in this game and the defence was excellent," said Vamvakaris.
"In the third quarter the Russians got some good goals because we lost our concentration and performance so we have to try and fix that."
"Evidently we are not far from Russia and the other top teams. So it’s been good for us but we understand that we have something to do to get better and better.
"The girls have a lot of talent and they must believe the talent they have in themselves as a team.
"For me, what’s very important is our defence. We scored nine goals which is okay but we conceded 12 so we must fix our defence to get better results."
Ciara Gibson-Byrne was GB’s main goal threat on the night, scoring five of the home team’s efforts while Angie Winstanley-Smith and Lisa Gibson both took single goals away as a reward for their efforts at centre forward.
"We've all come out of the game knowing we could have won it," - Captain Rosie MorrisFiona McCann and Chloe Wilcox were the Brits’ other scorers but captain Rosie Morris insisted it was their improvements in defence which caught the eye.
“Obviously we’re really disappointed with the loss and we’ve all come out of the game knowing we could have won it,” said Morris.
“We made a few mistakes in the third and fourth quarter which cost us but overall we can take quite a few positives from the game.
“Our defence under our new coach is starting to become really organised which is great considering we’ve only had a couple of days to work on it.
“I think in a month we’ll be performing even better together and our defence will be really good and with nine goals scored tonight, our attack is looking pretty good as well.”
The British women will face Ukraine, Israel, the Netherlands and Portugal between 16-19 January 2014 in their European Championship qualification group in Gouda.
A top-two finish from the group would see the Brits qualify for their second consecutive European Championship finals, having finished seventh in 2012.