Final quarter flurry sees Great Britain end World Championships on a high

Great Britain’s women secured eleventh place at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha after a narrow 8-6 victory against Kazakhstan in the 11-12 place classification match.

A final quarter hat trick from Brooke Tafazolli saw Great Britain come from behind as they ended their first World Championship campaign in more than a decade on a high.

Great Britain led for the entirety of the first half but unfortunately found themselves 6-5 down as they entered the final period.

Kazakhstan turned the game on it’s head after half time, netting three unanswered goals to lead going into the final eight minutes as the Asian Cup runners-up looked to equal their result from 2022.

The spirit of the British side never faded however and Tafazolli responded instantly in the fourth with two long range strikes inside the opening minute and a half to put Great Britain back in front.

Kazakhstan kept on pressing for an equaliser but Nick Buller’s side defended well as a team with Sophie Jackson on top form in between the sticks to deny them the chance of a leveler.

Jackson completed 72% of her saves across the match-up, stopping 16 shots, including two from man-up opportunities alone in a tense final few minutes.

The two sides were split by just one until the final 30 seconds of the contest when another Tafazolli rocket was too strong to hold for Kazakhstan keeper Mariya Martynenko and dropped just over the line. A nervy VAR check followed but the goal was given to put any lingering British nerves to rest.

“It meant a lot”

After being awarded player of the game, Tafazolli spoke to World Aquatics after the match-up saying: “We’re really happy we got the win. We came in hoping to get top 12 and coming 11th is really good.

“To contribute in this game where it meant it lot made me really proud of myself and all of the girls.

“Thank you to all our families, friends, coaches and our co-workers. Lots of us have jobs and we’ve had to take time off so thanks to all of the support back home.

“People have been awake watching us at 6am today so thank you all very much.”

For much of the game Great Britain looked in complete control, particular in the first when Annie Clapperton successfully converted a penalty just a minute into the contest.

She found the left-hand corner before a well worked man-up opportunity gave Katy Cutler all the space in the world to fire in a second just a minute later.

Martynenko then came off her line to try intercept a pass inside to Clapperton but the British number two was able to flick it on and onto the post. She didn’t give up on it however, pressing the keeper and blocking her attempted clearance to give Great Britain an early 3-0 lead.

Two near post finishes from Katie Brown and the first of Tafazolli’s four strikes kept the gap at two as Great Britain ended the first half with a slender 5-3 advantage.

Kazakhstan fired back in the third with three unanswered goals from Madina Rakhmanova (2) and Anna Novikova before Tafazolli fired back in the fourth to give Great Britain the victory.

Great Britain’s final placing of 11th is the highest of any British side since the inaugural women’s tournament in 1986 when only nine teams took part in the event.

It’s two places higher than Great Britain’s last appearance at the Championships in 2013 as they look to continue to progress and improve on their return to the European and global stage.

You can watch all the action from the World Water Polo Championships in Doha on Eurovision Sport or on the Eurovision Sport app.

Images: World Aquatics