Great Britain return to European Championships with a win against Slovakia

Great Britain marked their return to the European Championships stage with a dominant first half display to secure a 12-7 victory against Slovakia.

In their first match at this event in a decade you would have forgiven the British side for any nerves in the opening stages but it was their clinical start that put them in control at the Pieter van den Hoogenband Swimming Stadium.

Captain Kathy Rodgers led her team from the front with three goals and an assist as a potent Great Britain stormed to victory.

Two ‘man-up’ goals in the opening two minutes sent the British team on their way with centre forward Annie Clapperton grabbing the nation’s first goal at the Championships before Katie Brown found space just inside the 5m mark to fire in GB’s second.

Then Rodgers took control with two of her own – including a fine backhand finish – before teeing up Toula Falvey to give Great Britain a commanding 5-1 lead after the opening period.

The second quarter was much of the same with Nick Buller’s side in complete control as they extended their advantage to seven by the end of the first half.

A Katy Cutler strike and a penalty from Amelia Peters virtually but the game beyond Slovakia before Rodgers completed her hat trick to round out a memorable first half display.

“Important to start well”

Slovakia are familiar opponents to Great Britain with the two sides having met on a number of occasions in recent months, including December’s Danube Cup.

Back in Hungary, Great Britain defeated Slovakia 11-4 and the Central European side were determined to make this one more of a contest in the second half.

They managed to bring the gap down to five by the end of play by winning both the third and fourth quarters 3-2 each but it was never enough to trouble the British sides lead.

Both Clapperton and Falvey grabbed their brace in the second half whilst Lily Turner and the squads most capped player Vicki Hawkins rounded out a good display with GB’s final goal of the game.

Speaking after the match head coach Buller told LEN that getting a strong start was the key to victory.

He said: “I think it was important for us to start well, that’s what we emphasised and to start calmly as well.

“I was pleased with the way we started the game, we met that objective. I wasn’t so pleased with the second half but overall we’re really happy to get the result and the win.

“We’re looking forward to tomorrow, we’ll watch their (Bulgaria) game with Germany and we’ll prepare for them and we’ll be aiming to get the win.”

In the other match in the group, Germany defeated Bulgaria 29-9 meaning that GB finish the opening day in second place in the Group D table.

Tomorrow Great Britain face Bulgaria at 8am GMT before taking on Germany on Sunday.

All matches at the Championships are free to watch on Eurovision Sport which you can sign up for here.

For live results and the full schedule of the competition you can check out the event website, which contains all the information you need to know about the competition.

Image: European Aquatics