Great Britain's top-14 hopes still alive despite Japan defeat

Great Britain’s hopes of finishing in the top 14 at the FINA World Junior Championships are still on track despite falling 22-8 (2-5, 4-4, 1-4, 1-9) to a much-improved Japan in Volos on Tuesday.

With the 2020 Olympics heading to Tokyo, GB faced a Japanese side that appears to be developing a strong squad with those Games firmly in mind.

GB’s second successive defeat leaves them bottom of Group A and they now face a difficult game against 2009 champions Russia in the final round of preliminary play tomorrow.

Whatever the result on Wednesday, GB will still progress to the knockout stages on Thursday where their destiny will ultimately be decided.

Before today’s clash, GB were in a confident mood, even after center back Rhianne Oscroft was again ruled out through injury.

Captain Lauren Tasker led from the front and opened the scoring on extra, but GB’s lead didn’t last long as Japan took control with three unanswered goals.

Isobel Howe then fired in from distance to make it 2-3, but back came Japan as they counter attacked strongly to take a 5-2 advantage at the end of the first.

During the break, GB coach Theo Nousios’ words rallied his players and Rosie Huck started the fight back by scoring twice, once from 2m and then on extra to reduce the deficit to one.

The momentum looked to be with GB as Honor Grimes and Kate Parkin also found the net, but Japan added four of their own to lead 9-6 at the half.

In the third, Japan’s superior speed and stamina began to show as they exploited defensive gaps to win the quarter 4-1 with only Kathy Rogers managing to reply for GB from distance.

With one less substitute due to Oscroft’s injury, GB tired in the final period and although Grimes converted a well-taken penalty to take her tournament tally to six, Japan continued to drive forward and scored nine to secure a comfortable 22-8 victory.

GB’s final Group A match is tomorrow against Russia at 4pm local time and you can follow the match live via the official website and on the England Water Polo Twitter account @ENGWaterPolo.

Photo Credit: Volos 2015 Official Website.