Brits go down fighting in VISA International opener
3rd May 2012
The British Gas GBR Women’s Water Polo team showed their fighting spirit in their first match at the Olympic Water Polo Arena in the VISA International.
Competing against one of the best teams in women’s water polo in the shape of Australia, the Brits rose to the occasion in front of a 3,000 strong crowd, holding their opponents to 2-1 losses in each of the first three quarters.
The Australians’ strength showed in the final quarter as they pulled away but a 10-4 defeat to this season’s Pan Pacific champions was no disgrace in their first match of the four-nation competition.
It could have been a different story for the Brits, who earned 15 man-ups during the game but a fired-up Alicia McCormack kept them at bay in the Australian goal, conceding just once in each quarter.
We had good intensity, good movement and a very organised defence.
And British Head Coach Szilveszter Fekete admitted he was satisfied with how his players had matched up against one of the Olympic favourites.
Video Interview: GB head coach Szilveszter Fekete
“We had opportunities that we didn’t take but I think generally it was a good performance,” said Fekete.
“We had good intensity, good movement and a very organised defence.
“Australia is always a hard game. This season they have won every tournament they have participated in and I think at this moment they are one of the best teams in the world.
“So I think it was a good performance up until the last four or five minutes.”
Spurred on by a noisy crowd, the Brits started strongly with Chloe Wilcox converting from an early man-up to give them a 1-0 lead.
Australia struck immediately back on their own man-up and after an even first quarter edged in front from another power play situation.
Rosie Morris starred for the Brits with a couple of saves early in the second quarter and after Australia added a third on the counter, GB captain Fran Leighton pounced to rebound Angie Winstanley-Smith’s shot after it was parried on to the crossbar.
Another goal in the final minute of the quarter gave the Australians a 4-2 lead at the half-time break but after conceding early in the third, Fiona McCann added the Brits’ third goal from inside the 5m line.
Australia pulled clear as the Brits faded in the final quarter but after Winstanley-Smith earned a penalty in the final minute, Rachel Drabble converted with aplomb to ensure the Brits left the pool on a positive note.
Now we know what's going to hit us when we come to the Olympics.
And McCann admitted their first competitive experience at the Olympic Arena was a memorable one.
Video Interview: Fiona McCann
“We started with a bit of nerves but once we got into the game it went alright,” said McCann.
“The Australians are a great opposition – they’re really strong. It was a fantastic game to play because now we know what’s going to hit us when we come to the Olympics and we can learn from this to prepare for the Games.
“When we first walked through the door, we were all a bit taken aback but once we’d got through the line-up, everyone was buzzing.
“The atmosphere was great and it wasn’t even full tonight so when the Olympics come it’s going to be fantastic.”
World Cup champions USA defeated Hungary 11-6 in the other game in London and the Hungarians will take on Great Britain in their second game on Friday.
GB goalscorers: Chloe Wilcox, Fran Leighton, Fiona McCann, Rachel Drabble