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North East Steelers coach hails ‘fantastic' Inter-Regionals achievement

Victorious head coach Matt Graves hailed a ‘fantastic achievement’ from his North East Steelers side as they were crowned U16s Boys Inter-Regional Champions in style at the Liverpool Aquatic Centre.

They avenged a group defeat against South East as they defeated them 15-12 in the final, just months after vowing to turn around ‘not good enough’ performances in the tournament.

North East stormed into an 8-0 head start in the opening quarter against South East, with the championships’ MVP Gregor Marsland scoring five.

South East did recover to win the second half 7-2 but North East held on to claim the title – and deny their opponents an U16s Inter-Regional double after the girls had triumphed the week before.

Graves said his players had been outstanding, having realised themselves that their performance levels needed to improve.

He added: “The North East boys all sat down in February and said the results we’ve produced haven’t been good enough over the past few Inter-Regions tournaments. 

“They made a decision as a collective to turn things around and this is a fantastic achievement off the back of that decision.

Solid performance

“The group have been outstanding to work with, taken responsibility for their own work ethic and delivered the ultimate prize in regional water polo. 

“Fair play lads!“

Eli Wass, the delighted North East skipper, added: “Solid performance throughout the weekend from all the boys who stepped up. 

“Proud of us all and the improvements we’ve made as a team so we’ll keep building.”

North East had defeated Group A winners West Midlands Warriors 15-12 to reach the final – while South East needed penalties to edge past Scotland 13-12.

Goalkeeper and South East MVP William Makepeace was their hero as he saved three of the four Scotland penalties to ensure they reached the final.

It was a closely-contested bronze medal match, with West Midlands edging it 14-10 after pulling away in the final quarter.

London Sharks in Division One

London Sharks claimed the all-important fifth spot to seal a Division One place in the U18s 2025 championships.

They drew two of their group matches against West Midlands Warriors and Scotland to narrowly miss out on a semi-final spot but took fifth after defeating East 10-5.

Shaun Hill, London head coach, said: “London played valiantly and we are pleased to take a well-deserved fifth spot.

“This is huge credit to team captain Zac Shaw, also top goal scorer of the competition, who led by example for London. 

“Every member of the London team had a great work ethic, it was fantastic to see them develop over the weekend and it’s been a privilege to be on this journey as their coach. 

“The experience was excellent for these young talented athletes, who are more driven than ever to compete and take on the next challenge at the Division One event in 2025.

“It was a really well-organised tournament and great to see a good level from all the regions which is a really positive thing for water polo.”

MVP awards

  • East: Sam Barnes
  • East Midlands: William Newham
  • London: George Henderson
  • North East Steelers: Aston Walsh
  • North West Tigers: Joseph Roxburgh
  • Scotland Saltires: Jason Dickman
  • South East: William Makepeace
  • South West Sharks: Harvey Mitchell
  • Wales: Gilad Abramovich
  • West Midlands Warriors: Erik Buhaescu

Tournament awards

  • MVP: Gregor Marsland (North East)
  • Goalkeeper: Keeyan Shah (East)
  • Top goal scorer: Zac Shaw (London)

London Sharks17 – 4East MidlandsFT
East15 – 3WalesFT
Scotland4 – 9West Midlands WarriorsFT
North East Steelers4 – 3South West SharksFT
North West Tigers10 – 7London SharksFT
South East4 – 2EastFT
West Midlands Warriors10 – 2East MidlandsFT
South West Sharks17 – 5WalesFT
Scotland7 – 5North West TigersFT
North East Steelers3 – 4South EastFT
London Sharks4 – 4West Midlands WarriorsFT
East2 – 3South West SharksFT
North West Tigers10 – 3East MidlandsFT
South East7 – 3WalesFT
Scotland6 – 6London SharksFT
North East Steelers4 – 1EastFT
North West Tigers0 – 2West Midlands WarriorsFT
South East6 – 6South West SharksFT
East Midlands6 – 11ScotlandFT
Wales5 – 8North East SteelersFT
Group A Team
West Midlands Warriors4310157
North West Tigers420264
London Sharks4121104
East Midlands4004-330
Group B Team
South East431077
North East Steelers430166
South West Sharks4211125
5th-10th play-off
North West Tigers9 – 10EastFT
South West Sharks7 – 9London Sharks FT
Semi-Final 1
West Midlands Warriors12 – 15North East SteelersFT
Semi Final 2
South East13 – 12ScotlandFT
9th-10th Play-off
East Midlands12 – 13WalesFT
5th-6th Play-off
East5 – 10LondonFT
7th-8th Play-off
North West13 – 12South WestFT
North East15 – 12South EastFT
Bronze Medal Match
West Midlands14 – 10ScotlandFT