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Brits look to World League after encouraging VISA International

6th May 2012

The British Gas GBR Women’s Water Polo team lost out in the bronze medal match but left the VISA International with their heads held high.

Competing against familiar foes Hungary – who defeated them 19-9 en route to bronze at January’s European Championships – the Brits slipped to a 11-4 defeat in their last match at the Olympic Water Polo Arena before the Games themselves.

It’s been a good beginning to our last phase of preparation through to the Olympics.

The Brits had lost their group match against the Hungarians 17-10 on Friday but bounced back on Saturday with a rousing performance in a 7-6 defeat to World Cup champions USA.

But while he admits some form of emotional hangover after the American game was difficult to avoid, British head coach Szilveszter Fekete insists he couldn’t have asked for much more from his players at the tournament.

Video interview: Head coach Szilveszter Fekete

“Yesterday we had a good game but we finished at nine and were having breakfast for this game at seven this morning,” said Fekete.

“So I think we were tired physically and mentally after that.

“Over the tournament this has been a good week for us though. This is the top level and we didn’t have any competitive games to prepare since the Europeans in January.

“It’s been a good beginning to our last phase of preparation through to the Olympics.

The opening encounters were tense with both teams hitting the woodwork before Hungary pulled two goals clear.

Ciara Gibson-Byrne found space to hammer home with two minutes remaining before British goalkeeper Robyn Nicholls saved a one-on-one late in the quarter to keep the score 2-1.

Hungary continued to threaten in front of goal and added two to their tally in the second quarter.

Meanwhile, the Brits found opposition keeper Orsolya Kaso in fine form, the Hungarian saving goal-bound shots from Frankie Snell, Chloe Wilcox, Fiona McCann, Rachel Drabble and Gibson-Byrne during the eight minutes.

Hungary pulled clear in the third quarter, adding five goals to their tally although the Brits did find the net again through Lisa Gibson, the centre forward tapping in after Angie Winstanley-Smith’s unselfish pass.

At 9-2 down with a quarter remaining, the Brits refused to let their heads drop and tried to manufacture a way back into the game.

Winstanley-Smith hit the bar early in the quarter before winning a 5m penalty from Wilcox’s pin-point pass with McCann making no mistake from the free shot.

The Hungarian defence proved frustratingly solid and they added two more goals, an outside shot and a tap-in from the pit to secure the win.

If you look back at the games we’ve had this week, all of them have been positive.

But the Brits finished on a high note as Gibson-Byrne spotted Kaso off her line and sent home a nonchalant lob for her second goal of the game.

And British captain Fran Leighton admits they will only be taking positives from the tournament as they travel to Greece next week for a FINA World League preliminary competition against Russia, the Netherlands and Greece.

Video interview: Captain Fran Leighton

“If you look back at the games we’ve had this week, all of them have been positive,” said Leighton.

“Unfortunately we were a bit disappointed today but hopefully we can start to rectify that ready for the Olympics.

“We’ve got another six games next week which has got to be good. Before this we’ve not had a game since the Europeans so it’s great to be going to another competition.

“We’re playing different teams as well with different styles so it will be tough next week as well but we’re all looking forward to it.”

GB goalscorers: Ciara Gibson-Byrne (2), Lisa Gibson, Fiona McCann

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