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ESSA coach Sean King confident ahead of tournament decider

With three wins from three in the Exiles International Invitational Tournament, the English Schools’ Swimming Association (ESSA) Water Polo team are one victory away from being crowned champions in Malta.

Standing in their way are the hosts, who also boast a 100% record after triumphs over South Africa 1sts and 2nds and the Dutch national champions Widex GZC Donk.

Following ESSA’s winning performances against South Africa 2nds (19-7) and Widex (9-5) on Sunday, coach Sean King says he’s been impressed with the team’s displays and is confident ahead of Tuesday afternoon’s winner-takes-all clash with Malta.

“We’re focused on winning and we want to round off the week undefeated” – ESSA coach Sean King.

“Sunday was always going to be a difficult day, with a game in the morning and another match in the afternoon,” said King.

“I was really happy we introduced the defence we wanted to play against Widex. We only decided on that a couple of hours before, but the boys followed it through so well.

“The result was so comfortable because of our defence. Several times we turned the ball over and we went one on zero and that was really, really encouraging to see.

“Ahead of our final game against Malta, we’re full of confidence, we’re focused on winning and we want to round off the week undefeated.”

Manchester Grammar’s Rob Gourley was also impressed with the ESSA team’s defensive strength on Sunday.

“We got our tactics spot on and I thought we executed the coaches’ ideas really well,” said Gourley.

“We delivered a great team performance against the Dutch. We had a good structure and we proved we can play two games in Malta with a short rest period and still come out with a top team display like that.

“We’ve been playing very well in this tournament and the squad is so strong our levels stay the same no matter who’s in the pool.

“Against Widex we also got our attacks right and we were able to punish them on the counter.

“We’re all looking forward to facing Malta on Tuesday and hopefully we can get the result we want and win the tournament.”

ESSA’s crunch clash against the hosts Malta starts at 5.15pm local time on Tuesday and will be played at the National Aquatics Stadium in Sliema.

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