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Rowland fires in a hat-trick but GB fall to sharp-shooting Serbia

After six gruelling games in six consecutive days, Great Britain’s hopes of a top-10 finish at the 2015 European Games were dashed on Wednesday as they fell 11-3 (1-5, 1-1, 0-4, 1-1) to Serbia in Baku.

The defeat was tough on Team GB as in all six preliminary games they displayed great signs of progression and today they again showed fantastic determination, spirit and passion.

“We did superbly to qualify and this team has done brilliantly to be here,” reflected GB coach Nick Buller after the match.

“I can’t fault the girls’ efforts. Throughout the whole tournament they’ve all been absolutely superb. It just wasn’t our day today, but they’ve all learnt from this experience and they will come back stronger. They should all be very proud of themselves.”

Great Britain began the 7th-12th classification quarter-final by defending valiantly as Serbia were restricted to shots from distance which unfortunately hit the target as the eastern Europeans raced into a commanding 5-0 lead.

“It just wasn’t our day today, but they’ve all learnt from this experience and they will come back stronger. They should all be very proud of themselves,”  – GB coach Nick Buller

GB were startled, but refused to give in as Liverpool’s Grace Rowland opened the scoring for GB with a fantastic centre shot that beat the keeper and gave the team hope at the end of the first quarter.

In the second period, GB responded magnificently as they attacked with real energy and they besieged the Serbian goal as they battled to find a way back into the game.

Serbia were forced to defend deep as Rowland slammed a shot against the post, before Hannah Edwards, Dani Brazier and Lucy Shaw also saw efforts cannon off the frame of the goal.

Rowland, who was a constant threat throughout the game, then found clear water on the counter to finish off a superb move with a controlled shot into the net.

With the score 6-2 at the end of the half, the momentum looked to be with GB, as Serbia were struggling with a no-foul press on the arc and they had their keeper to thank for making a string of spectacular saves.

Rowland capped off a fine individual performance by completing her hat-trick with a confident penalty in the fourth, but that was after Serbia had extended their lead to 10-2 in the third and they were able to finish up comfortable 11-3 winners.

“Serbia put away a lot of 5m shots, which is typical Serbian play,” added coach Buller. “We were left isolated at times one-on-one and their shooting was just too good.

“We learnt as the game went on and we knew we needed to have more blocks up against them and towards the end we had some success.”

GB’s Azerbaijan adventure will now end tomorrow as they face Israel in Thursday’s 11th-12th classification final, 9am start UK time.

  •  Click here to view the match stats on the official Baku 2015 website.

Team GB water polo:

  • Dani Brazier (Chelmsford)
  • Izzy Dean (captain) (London Otter)
  • Hannah Edwards (Menzieshill Whitehall)
  • Sophie Jackson (Leeds)
  • Fleur Kennedy (City of Coventry)
  • Verity McCoy (vice captain) (Liverpool)
  • Mhairi Nurthen (London Otter)
  • Lara Partridge (Crawley)
  • Hayley Price (Tyldesley)
  • Kathy Rogers (London Otter)
  • Grace Rowland (Liverpool)
  • Lucy Shaw (Liverpool)
  • Beth Ward (Devonport Royal)