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ESSA coach Andy McGinty delighted with winning start

The English Schools’ Swimming Association (ESSA) Water Polo team started their International Invitational Tournament campaign on Saturday with a 9-8 win over South Africa 1sts in Sliema, Malta.

After a slow start by the ESSA team, the South Africans looked sharper and took advantage by taking a 6-4 half-time lead, but coach Andy McGinty was delighted with how the team reacted to fight back and win the last two quarters 5-2 to secure a memorable victory.

“It was important we went out there and got a result in our first game and the team’s worked really hard over the past few days to make that happen,” said McGinty.

“We knew the South Africans would be a very physical team and we set up our team and tactics to deal with that.

“We started slowly and were disappointed with how we played in the first half, to be losing 6-4, but as the South Africans played on Friday, they possibly began a little bit stronger for that reason.

“But we were delighted with the way we came back into the game in the second half and to get the win was fantastic.

“The boys are pleased, but this is just one game and we’re focused on the whole tournament, which we’re aiming to win. The overall result is what we’ve got our sights on right now.”

“We were delighted with the way we came back and to get the win was fantastic” – ESSA coach Andy McGinty.

ESSA captain and Bolton School’s Lewis Daly echoed his coach’s thoughts on the game, “The team played very well and it’s a great way to start the tournament.

“We’ve bonded really well and special mention has to go to Joe Hazeldine, who scored two great goals on his international debut.

“We played excellently as a team, especially in the second half, which we won 5-2 and that was very difficult to do after finding ourselves 6-4 down at the end of the second.

“To win in those circumstances and the way we played makes me very proud of this team. It’s only the first game and there is still a very long way to go, but I am sure we’ll get even better and improve as the tournament progresses.”

As well as Joe Hazeldine firing in two goals on his international debut, ESSA’s other scorers against South Africa 1sts were Joel Leighton (1), Will Rayson (1), Jordan Elliot (1), Aaron Winstanley (2) and Lewis Daly (2).

Hosts Malta are the early pacesetters in the tournament as they beat South Africa 1sts 7-6 on Friday, before winning 16-8 against South Africa 2nds earlier on Saturday.

The ESSA team’s second fixture is against South Africa 2nds, who they face on Sunday morning at 9.30am local time at the National Aquatics Stadium in Sliema.

Malta are also in action again on Sunday as they take on Dutch national champions Widex GZC Donk at 10.45am.

The ESSA squad in full:

  • Dylan Green – Oldham College, Oldham, Gtr Manchester
  • Peter Pickford – Watford Grammar School for Boys, Herts
  • Jordan Elliot – Longslade Community College, Leics
  • Will Rayson – All Saints Academy, Cheltenham, Glous
  • Dan Paddon – Great Baddow High School, Essex
  • Joel Leighton – High Storrs School, Sheffield, Yorks
  • Aaron Winstanley – Bolton School, Gtr Manchester
  • Lewis Daly – Bolton School, Gtr Manchester
  • Rudi Polster – Cleeve School, Glous
  • Joe Hazeldine – Worthing College, W.Sussex
  • Tom Prayle – Bolton School, Gtr Manchester
  • Rob Gourley – Manchester Grammar School, Gtr Manchester
  • Remmy Gorton – Xaverian VIth Form College, Gtr Manchester
  • Sam Richards – Bolton School, Gtr Manchester
  • Sam Wordley – Exeter College, Devon
  • Alfie Brown – Glyn School, Epsom, Surrey