Brits off the mark in Baku with Israel victory

Great Britain’s women’s water polo team secured their first points of the Baku 2015 European Games with a hard-earned defeat of Israel.

Mhairi Nurthen, Kathy Rogers and Grace Rowland scored hat-tricks and Hayley Price saved a penalty as the Brits put in a mature performance to see off a determined Israel side, winning the first three quarters in a 13-9 (4-2, 3-1, 4-3, 2-3) victory.

“It was a good game and I just felt really good no matter where I played,” said Nurthen. “I felt quite strong. I was burning players on the swim and on the man-up and I felt really quite good today.

“We knew even if it did get tight we could still come away with a win,” – Mhairi Nurthen

“They came at us quite hard and I think we started to rush it and rush our own attacks a bit too much. We got loads of majors against us and they converted them quite well.

“But we knew even if it did get tight we could still come away with a win. We trust in the tactics so we just went for it.”

We can learn from the experience of playing teams like Hungary and try and take that over to our matches for the crossovers.

Team GB had been unlucky to not claim their first points of the group stage in a 10-8 defeat to Germany two days ago, the clock running down too quickly after they had built significant momentum in the final quarter.

But there was no comeback needed against Israel as Dani Brazier, Nurthen, Lucy Shaw and Hannah Edwards put GB 4-2 up in the first quarter.

Having also lost to Germany, Israel knew this would be their best remaining chance to record a group stage win and threw everything at the Brits in the second quarter.

But after Israel pulled a goal back, GB’s goalkeeper Price made a vital penalty save to maintain the Brits’ one-goal advantage and take the wind out of their opponents’ sails.

Rogers immediately rubbed salt into their wounds with a quick-fire goal on a man-up before GB began to swarm the Israel goal.

Brazier had a man-up attempt saved and Edwards saw a shot cannon off the post before Nurthen and Rogers scored their second goals of the game in the final minute to put the Brits in the driving seat with a 7-3 lead at half-time.

The Brits turned on the style in the third quarter with some of the best goals of the match as Nurthen and Rogers completed their hat-tricks, Shaw netted on a man-up and Rowland ensured the Brits won the quarter with a late bounce shot.

“It was tight and the girls kicked on and showed their character to secure the win so well done to them,” – head coach Nick Buller.

Three Israel goals in the first four minutes of the final quarter had a few of the British fans watching on nervously but Rowland stopped the rot and put an end to Israel’s resurgence, completing her second half hat-trick with two goals in 30 seconds to secure the points.

“We’re pleased with the win but we know we can do much better,” said head coach Nick Buller. “We’re disappointed with our conversion on man up and we’ll be looking at the video and to put that right for the next time.

“There were a lot of exclusions coming in the second half. Their centre forward played strong so fair play to her. They also played more of a driving attack as well and we need to be better in our drive defense. We gave away too many majors.

“It was tight and the girls kicked on and showed their character to secure the win so well done to them.”

Team GB play Hungary in their final group match tomorrow at 14:00 (UK time).

  • Click here to view the match stats on the official Baku 2015 website.

Team GB water polo:

  • Dani Brazier (Chelmsford)
  • Izzy Dean (captain) (London Otter)
  • Hannah Edwards (Menzieshill Whitehall)
  • Sophie Jackson (Leeds)
  • Fleur Kennedy (City of Coventry)
  • Verity McCoy (vice captain) (Liverpool)
  • Mhairi Nurthen (London Otter)
  • Lara Partridge (Crawley)
  • Hayley Price (Tyldesley)
  • Kathy Rogers (London Otter)
  • Grace Rowland (Liverpool)
  • Lucy Shaw (Liverpool)
  • Beth Ward (Devonport Royal)