Great Britain equal second highest finish ever at European Championships

Great Britain’s senior women’s water polo team finished seventh at the 2024 European Water Polo Championships – equaling their second highest finish ever at the competition.

After a decade away from this event, it has been an impressive return for the British team, who rounded off the championships with a hard fought 11-9 victory over Croatia.

The seventh place finish in Eindhoven crowns the side’s best finish at the European Championships since 2012 as they continue their progress towards competing with the top teams.

In an interview ahead of their 7-8 place match, when asked what he expects from his side, head coach Nick Buller said ‘for them to give everything’ – and they certainly did.

Cecily Turner, whose long range shooting was on top form, put on a player of the match performance.

Great Britain’s number four was the highest goalscorer of the match with four, the first of which saw her drill the ball home from around seven metres out to equalise after Croatia had opened the scoring.

It was a tight first half, with a number of chances missed by both sides and only one other opportunity taken by Great Britain courtesy of Katy Cutler.

The goal came following some great ball movement and gave GB the perfect start to the second quarter, but Buller’s side trailed 4-2 at the halfway stage.

However, the goals started to flow in the second half and Cutler was again there to finish off a beautifully worked goal.

She stayed onside and fired a shot across the goalkeeper to score her eighth of the tournament and cut the margin to just one goal.

A further two unanswered goals, the first a superb backhand from Anya Clapperton followed by Turner doubling her tally, saw Great Britain take the lead for the first time in the match.

Croatia eventually responded after Jelena Butic’s shot rebounded off the post, hit Sophie Jackson on the back and landed in the net to level the score at 5-5.

Great Britain continued to create chances, then up stepped the captain, Rogers. A quick one-two between her and Katie Brown allowed Rogers to get a shot away and her side reclaimed the ascendency.

The opposition opened up a two goal lead towards the end of the third quarter, but Turner converted a penalty to complete her hat-trick and Jackson made an important save with just seconds remaining.

That brought Great Britain back to within one goal and set up an exciting final quarter with the score at 8-7.

As they did in the opening quarter, Croatia struck first in the fourth and final quarter, but it was all Great Britain from there with back-to-back goals from Rogers, Turner and Toula Falvey to cap a fantastic team performance.

Rogers scored her second from an almost impossible angle before pulling another back to equalise. Turner’s fourth goal was another long range effort and a massive one for the team.

It put Great Britain ahead with just 44 seconds remaining, before Falvey sealed the 11-9 victory in the final seconds with a composed finish.

The result means that the team has secured an invitation to next month’s World Championships in Doha, Qatar.

After the match, Rogers said: “I think our inexperience came out at the beginning of the game and then we settled down and we came through and it was a real team win.

“From the training we did, the focusing, all of us putting the effort in to focus on Croatia and coming through – it was a team win.

“It’s all about supporting each other. We’re all here to build each other up as players and learn from each other and just grow as a team.

“The girls at home made us the team that we are today. It’s a squad win.”

Click here to see all of the results from the 2024 European Water Polo Championships.

Images: European Aquatics