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Brits impress against Olympic champions

22nd January 2012

The British Gas GBR Women’s Water Polo team left another signal of their potential in a competitive final group match of the 2012 European Championships in Eindhoven.

Playing against reigning Olympic champions the Netherlands – who had the support of a partisan crowd in the Pieter van den Hoogenband Arena – the British women were tied at 6-6 half way through the third quarter.

I'm happy because we led during the first half of the game.

The Dutch eventually weathered the storm and closed out a 12-6 victory to reach the quarter finals.

But – having also impressed against defending European champions Russia on Friday – the Brits will have their heads held high as they prepare for Tuesday’s seventh / eighth place playoff against Germany.

And head coach Szilveszter Fekete admitted he had been pleased with his charges’ performance so far in Eindhoven, given their lack of competitive matches since qualifying for the Championships last year.

“When we came to these European Championships we hadn’t played any official matches since September 2011,” said Fekete.

“And here we had to play title holders Russia, Olympic champions Netherlands and Hungary in our group – a very difficult task for our squad.

“So I’m happy because we led during the first half of the game.”

For the third match running, the British women took the lead in the first quarter as Ciara Gibson-Byrne calmly placed a lob shot into the corner.

The Dutch hit back with an equaliser but it was the Brits who led at the first interval after captain Fran Leighton added a second goal from the pit for a 2-1 lead.

Fiona McCann put the British two goals up in the first move of the second quarter before the hosts began to find their form, pulling level and moving a goal ahead themselves.

But the Brits stuck with their experienced opponents as second goals from Leighton and McCann kept them within touching distance, 6-5 behind at half-time.

Angie Winstanley-Smith’s bounce shot pulled the British level early in the third quarter but with the match hanging in the balance, it was the Dutch who broke through and pulled clear to 10-6 with eight minutes remaining.

The Brits pushed hard to reduce the deficit but Dutch goalkeeper Ilse van der Meijden enjoyed her best period of the game, denying a number of attempts as her side eventually secured the win.

British Gas GBR Women's Water Polo Team 6 - 12 Netherlands (2-1, 3-5, 1-4, 0-2)

GB goalscorers: Fran Leighton (2), Fiona McCann (2), Ciara Gibson-Byrne, Angie Winstanley-Smith.

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