Manchester and Cheltenham set up grandstand final
22 February 2014
City of Manchester and Cheltenham set up a grandstand final with hard-fought victories on the opening day of the British Gas Water Polo Championships 2014 at Manchester Aquatics Centre.
And they set-up one final showdown as City of Manchester saw off Invicta and Cheltenham defeated 2012 champions Portobello.
City of Manchester were first up in their home pool, having landed their first British Water Polo League title earlier this season.
And the home side didn’t disappoint against underdogs Invicta, winning three of the four quarters in a 10-5 (3-1, 1-1, 3-2, 3-1) victory.
London 2012 Olympian Joe O’Regan bagged a hat-trick for Manchester and while Olympic teammate Jack Waller also scored a hat-trick for Invicta, the London club – who gained League promotion from Division 2 this season – couldn’t claw back the early deficit.
"We’re really chuffed with the result," said Manchester's Mike Bourne. "It started off really close and we did well to stick it out and fight all the way to the end. And we deserved it as well by the end. We’ve worked hard all season and hopefully we can go and take gold tomorrow.
"Invicta were underdogs and have just been promoted this season but they were fantastic at the prelims and there was no way we were going to underestimate them."It was a similar story in the second semi as Cheltenham raced to a 4-0 lead against their Scottish opponents before securing a 12 – 7 (5-2, 2-1, 2-2, 3-2) win.
British Olympian Rob Parker and David Taylor were the star men in front of goal for Cheltenham, scoring four each while Jake Vincent also contributed with two.
"We’ve had plenty of showdowns with Portobello who are a very good team," said Cheltenham's Adam Legge. "We knew which tactics we wanted to play and we went out straight from the swim-off. We went in hard and played our game and that made a big difference.
"We’ve worked hard in the off-season and tried to gel as a team and I think that’s showed in the pool. We haven’t lost to Manchester this season so we are going in to tomorrow's final with a lot of confidence. We’re wary of some of their players and we’re not going to lose respect for them but we’ll give them a good game and it should be a good final."
The men’s British Gas Water Polo Championship final between City of Manchester and Cheltenham will take place at 14:30 on Sunday 23 February while Portobello and Invicta will face off for bronze beforehand at 13:00.
Tickets will be available on the door at Manchester Aquatics Centre - click here for more info.