England’s men retain their water polo Home Nations titleMay 23, 2023
England’s senior men’s team have retained their Water Polo Home Nations Championship after defeating Ireland, Scotland and Wales in Dublin at the weekend.
They were undefeated throughout their three matches whilst England’s youthful women’s team finished second with two wins from three at the Sport Ireland National Aquatic Centre.
England’s men started off the competition on Saturday with an impressive 23-5 victory against Wales.
It was a close opening period but England asserted their dominance in the second to move into an 9-2 lead at the half-way point.
From there they never looked back with Jordan Elliot scoring six times throughout the matchup as James Salt, John Pratt, Tom Hunt and Kameron Powell all grabbed a hat trick in an excellent attacking display.
The team then returned to the pool for a crunch match with Ireland on Saturday evening in a game which would ultimately decide the title.
In a physical battle with a strong Irish team, England eventually came out on top with a 13-10 win.
They started strongly, moving into a 5-1 advantage after the opening period before Ireland battled back in the second half.
The hosts outscored England in the third quarter to get themselves back into the contest but a professional team display saw Nick Hume’s side hold onto their three goal lead in the final period.
Elliot and England goalkeeper Tom Manley spoke to HBV after the narrow victory.
Manley said: “It was a really close game. After a strong start from us in the first and second quarters, they really came back into the game and made it tough for us.
“They had a lot of man-ups and we felt like they were looking towards the posts because that’s what they did last year and we watched their opening game and they used that really well against Scotland.
“So we were really emphasising staying low and making sure the ball wasn’t getting to the post players so we could force them into taking lower percentage shots.”
“It’s a team game”
Elliot, who scored in the match, said it was a team performance that saw England pick up the win.
“It’s a team game, you’ve got to have rotation players too. Today we used our full bench and you can’t win games without them.
“When those players do come in, they work really hard and make sure to do their jobs.
“The Europeans is the end goal for us at the minute. We’ve got a tough group with Serbia, Turkey and Slovakia but the objective is to qualify. Whether that’s this time or in two years’ time but that is the objective at the minute.”
Going into Sunday England knew that a win in their final match with Scotland would secure them the title for a second straight year.
And it was another strong start that sent them on their way to victory after moving into a 6-2 lead in the opening period.
An early Elliot hat trick, two from Powell and another from Pratt put England into a strong position after the first eight minutes.
Scotland tried to fight back before the interval but goals from Fraser Dunguid, two more for Pratt and another for Elliot in the third period put England’s men into an unassailable lead.
They ended the match with a convincing 11-6 win as England retained the title that they won at Coventry’s Alan Higgs Centre last year.
City of Manchester’s Elliot was awarded both the men’s top scorer award and was voted the competitions MVP after scoring 11 times in three matches.
England’s Elliot McHugh (West London Penguin) won the events best goalkeeper award after a commanding display between the posts.
Ireland finished second in the competition with Scotland in third and Wales finishing fourth.
Spirited young women’s team finish second
In the women’s competition, a spirited young England team finished second after winning two of their three matches.
The squad was made up of a number of developmental players from both the U17 and U19 teams as they got the opportunity to experience some senior level competition.
A number of the squad competed at the U19 European Championships in 2022 whilst the youngest members of the team are preparing for the U17 European Championships in August.
The women begun their competition on Friday evening as they defeated Scotland in some style with a 21-3 win.
In Katy Cutler’s first event as a national head coach, the team put in a fantastic team display to defeat the Scots with eight players getting on the scoresheet.
Amelie Perkins led the way with seven in the match as Holly Toone and Lucy Blenkinship scored three each.
They then faced an experienced Ireland team on Saturday who have a wealth of senior match experience.
And the hosts got out of the blocks quickly as they asserted themselves into a 3-1 lead in the first period.
England fought back with Toone (2), Harriet Dickens, Perkins and Alice Cornell scoring in the second as England turned the game on its head to lead 6-5 at half-time as they team showed their team spirit.
In the end, Ireland showed their experience and conditioning as the game developed. They edged both the third and fourth quarters by a goal each to run out with a narrow 11-10 victory.
Despite the result it was still an impressive performance from Cutler’s side and she told HBV after the match that she was proud of her team’s performance.
She said: “Obviously it’s quite frustrating to lose by a goal but the girls played their best right until the end, they carried on fighting and I couldn’t ask for anything more from them.
“This is the reason we’ve come here to get this international experience that we need and get the game experience for the girls, we’ve got a lot of junior players here and it’s a great experience for them.
“I’m just so proud of how they played and what they put into the whole game.
“Seeing a team of that level from Ireland who are on such a high it’s brilliant for us to be competing against a team of that standard.
“That’s what is really pushing us and enabling us to work on improving our game. It’s a match which we can take a lot of positives from and also a lot we can take away and improve on too.”
England’s women were able to end the competition on a high note after they defeated Wales 19-5 on the final day.
Goalkeeper Maddie Calthrop saved two penalties early on in the match which helped England take a lead into the second quarter.
City of Manchester duo of Blenkinship and Harriet Dickens were the stars of the show as they scored ten goals between them as England ran out as comfortable winners to finish in second place.
Ireland won the women’s title with Wales in third and Scotland fourth.
Swim England wants to thank all those at Swim Ireland and Ireland Water Polo for organising and hosting this year’s competition.
You can see the full scorers and results from each of England’s matches below.
Men’s results and goal scorers at the Home Nations Tournament
England 23-5 Wales (3-1, 8-1, 6-2, 6-1)
James Salt (3), John Pratt (3), Daniel Atkinson (2), Kameron Powell (3), Jordan Elliot (6), Aaron Winstanley, Fraser Duguid, Ryan Symington, Tom Hunt (3).
England 13-10 Ireland (5-1, 2-2, 3-4, 3-3)
Jordan Elliot, Tom Hunt (3), Aaron Winstanley, John Pratt (4), Kameron Powell (3), James Salt.
England 11-6 Scotland (6-2, 1-2, 4-2, 0-0)
Jordan Elliot (4), Kameron Powell (2), John Pratt (2), James Salt (2), Fraser Duguid.
Women’s results and goal scorers at the Home Nations Tournament
England 21-3 Scotland (4-1, 5-1, 9-0, 3-1)
Amelie Perkins (7), Holly Toone (3), Amelia Brooksbank, Harriet Dickens (2), Lottie Winstanley (2), Amelie Cornell (2), Rachel Tibke, Lucy Blenkinship (3), Ruby Rosser.
England 10-11 Ireland (1-3, 5-2, 2-3, 2-3)
Amelie Perkins, Holly Toone (3), Amelie Cornell, Harriet Dickens (2), Kelsey Evans, Rachel Tibke, Lucy Blenkinship.
England 19-5 Wales (2-1, 7-3, 6-1, 4-0)
Amelie Cornell, Lucy Blenkinship (4), Amelie Perkins (2), Harriet Dickens (6), Holly Toone (2), Lottie Winstanley (2), Kelsey Evans, Rachel Tibke.