Competitive Great Britain U19s miss out on European qualification

Great Britain’s U19 men’s water polo side missed out on qualification for the European U19 Water Polo Championships later this year despite a proud display in their qualification group in Bosnia & Herzegovina.

The competition gave the 15-strong squad valuable international level experience as they continue their development for an age group that missed out on a lot of overseas events due to the pandemic.

Great Britain finished fourth in their five team group after one victory and three defeats from their four matches in the Balkans.

Despite the loses GB put on a competitive display across the event with narrow 9-6 and 12-9 defeats to Czechia and the hosts respectively seeing them just miss out on reaching one of the two qualification spots.

Tim Dunsbee’s side opened up their competition with that match with Czechia on Thursday in a match that showed plenty of positives for Great Britain’s young side.

They kept themselves in the contest for its entirety and created a number of chances throughout but couldn’t find the goals they needed to get themselves in front.

Czechia led 7-2 going into the final quarter but GB finished strongly to bring the game back within three despite the defeat.

Reuben Powell and Cayden Down scored two apiece in the match with Murray Dickson and Stanford’s Alexander Sharp adding to the tally.

Ending on a high

They followed that up with the toughest match in the group against a French side who were the favourites for the group.

The French team are a regular fixture at a European Championships and made no mistake as they won all of their matches across the four days.

Great Britain gave them a tough start though with an equal opening quarter that ended 1-1 with Sedgefield’s Ben Alderson grabbing GB’s goal.

The strong French side did eventually take control however with Alderson and Sharp each grabbing another in a 22-3 defeat.

That result left GB in a difficult position after two defeats in two games but they fought on valiantly throughout the rest of the competition.

They needed to react quickly too with just eight hours between the start of the France match and the start of their third encounter with hosts Bosnia & Herzegovina.

It didn’t seem to affect the group though as Pierre Rivet and a penalty from Alderson to put GB 3-1 up at the end of the first before the hosts levelled the game up at 6-6 by half time.

Great Britain battled on strongly but the hosts edged in front in the second half despite a hat trick from Reuben Powell and two more from Down. Alastair Cook completed Great Britain’s scoring in the 12-9 defeat.

At that point Great Britain knew they wouldn’t qualify for the event but they returned to the pool on Sunday for their final match and put on a show against Finland.

They recorded a powerful 20-7 victory to end their competition on a high in Trebinje.

Dunsbee’s squad dominated the match, winning all four quarters to secure fourth spot and above their opponents Finland.

Cook led the teams scoring with six whilst Alderson also netted a hat trick in an impressive display from the young squad.

Aaron Downer, Will Thompson, Louie McKie and Sharp all grabbed two goals whilst Powell, Rivet and Daniel Preston took the teams tally to 20.

Although Great Britain’s men missed out on the Championships the women’s team will be competing at the event later this year.

Their Championships in Zagreb, Croatia get underway on Saturday 31 August and run until Saturday 7 September. You can find all the results from the men’s European Championship Qualifiers here.