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England storm past Ireland to claim 5th at EU Nations Cup

The England U17 women’s water polo team finished their EU Nations Cup campaign in style on Sunday with a sensational 12-4 (4-0, 2-1, 4-2, 2-1) victory over Ireland.

The commanding win secured England a fifth place finish at the prestigious three-day tournament which was held in Prague and also featured hosts Czech Republic, Slovakia, Wales, South Africa, Denmark, Scotland, Ireland, Switzerland and Saxonia/Chemnitz.

On Friday, England got off to the perfect start with a 22-3 (5-0, 2-1, 8-1, 7-1) triumph over Scotland.

“We looked strong and played exceptionally well, particularly in defence” – England coach Jim Caulfield

A goal blitz against Denmark followed as the talented youngsters displayed their superiority with a comfortable 28-3 (9-0, 5-1, 8-1, 6-1) win.

After taking maximum points on day one, delighted England coach, Jim Caulfield, commented: “These were the first international matches this team have played. We looked strong and played exceptionally well, particularly in defence.

“The opportunities we created and the goals we scored were from tactics and techniques we’ve used in training, so it was excellent to see practice transfer into performance.

“Special mention has to go to both goalkeepers, who played superbly, only conceding six goals and they saved some excellent shots.”

On Saturday morning, England played eventual tournament champions Slovakia in what was arguably the best game of the EU Nations Cup.

England battled hard throughout and there was nothing to choose between the two teams as the scores were level at the end of the first, second and third quarters.

In the final period England hit the net twice to open up an 11-9 lead, but there was disappointment as Slovakia responded with three unanswered goals to edge a thrilling encounter 12-11 (4-4, 2-2, 3-3, 3-2).

Next up were Saxonia/Chemnitz who were playing their first match of the day and clearly benefited from facing an England side who were recovering from their exploits against Slovakia.

After an even opening quarter, England were level at 3-3 but slowly faded as they fell to their second defeat of the day 11-6 (3-3, 3-1, 1-1, 4-1).

“The Saxonia/Chemnitz score didn’t reflect how close the game was,” said assistant coach Andy Wilson. “It was our second game of the day and it was their first.

“The last three minutes showed the effects of mental and physical fatigue on our players.

“Saxonia/Chemnitz played an excellent defensive game, which made it very difficult for us to score, whilst constantly looking to counter.”

After two wins and two losses, England finished third in Group B which set up Sunday’s 5th/6th place clash with Ireland.

“We put up a very good fight against tournament champions Slovakia and Saxonia/Chemnitz, who finished third” – England captain Anya Clapperton

The players were clearly focused and determined to finish the tournament on a high following Saturday’s disappointments.

From the very first whistle, England dominated the game in attack and defence as they powered their way to a comprehensive 12-4 (4-0, 2-1, 4-2, 2-1) victory and a fifth place finish.

There was more joy for the players as Sophie Jackson was named the tournament’s best goalkeeper.

After collecting the fifth place trophy, captain Anya Clapperton was full of praise for the England team which scored a total of 79 goals and saw every outfield player find the net.

“This tournament has been a huge success and the whole squad has really come together as a team,” reflected Anya.

“We put up a very good fight against tournament champions Slovakia and Saxonia/Chemnitz, who finished third, but due to our lack of experience we just missed out on a medal opportunity.

“As this has been our international debut as a team everyone should be really proud of their efforts and they have made England proud.

“We are all looking forward to the future of England water polo.”

Final standings at the EU Nations Cup in Prague, Czech Republic

1st Slovakia
2nd South Africa
3rd Saxonia/Chemnitz
4th Czech Republic
5th England
6th Ireland
7th Scotland
8th Switzerland
9th Denmark
10th Wales

England U17 squad in full and goals in brackets

Anya Clapperton (20)
Stephanie Whittaker (10)
Milly Wordley (9)
Emmie-Rose Eastwood (7)
Katy Cutler (6)
Emily Pyper (6)
Molly Boniface-Ashton (5)
Isabel Larder (5)
Robyn Greenslade (4)
Lily Turner (3)
Amy Potter (2)
Maisy Clapperton (1)
Scarlett Horton (1)
Sophie Jackson (GK)
Niamh Campbell-O’Donnell (GK)

Team Staff:

Referee: Mike Jukes
Team Manager: Sandra Sanderson
Coach: Jim Caulfield
Assistant Coach: Andy Wilson