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Great Britain impress at Women’s European U17 Championships

Great Britain finished 13th at the Women’s European U17 Water Polo Championships after a series of excellent performances in Manisa, Turkey.

Head coach Craig Figes saw his side win three of their six matches on their way to third in the group and wins in both of their crossover matches.

They got off to the perfect start, defeating Ireland 21-3 in their opening preliminary match in Group D. A strong defence pathing the way for a flurry of goals late on.

Coventry and Cheltenham’s Amelie Perkins led the way with six goals whilst Lucy Blenkinship, Laura Skelton and Hannah Pyper got a hat trick each.

Eve Barnes and Elizabeth Ross grabbed themselves a brace with Anna Klib and captain Amelia Brooksbank completing the scoring.

Great Britain’s second group game proved to be a tough contest against hosts Turkey who ran out 9-5 victors.

The British team battled hard and were right in the contest throughout the first half but the hosts were able to pull away in the third quarter.

Perkins and Blenkinship were on fine form in attack with two goals each whilst Skelton added another to her tally.

The group bounced back however, with an impressive 9-9 draw with Serbia in the third preliminary match.

After getting off to a strong start, Serbia pegged Britain back to bring the scores level at 4-4 at the half way mark.

Goalkeeper Zara Christie then made a spectacular save from a penalty to keep the team within one goal with one quarter to go.

The two sides traded goals throughout the final period with Rebecca Smith, Charlotte Pritchard, Brooksbank and two from Perkins adding to Great Britain’s tally before Jovana Radonjic completed her hat trick with the final goal of the game that bring the scores level for Serbia.

Perkins scored two more earlier in the match to bring her total to four for the game with Pyper (two) and Blenkinship also getting on the scoresheet.

Less than 48 hours after completing their first group game GB played their fourth and final group match, a 12-10 defeat against Ukraine meant that they finished third in the group behind hosts Turkey and Serbia.

Back to back wins to round out the competition

The results meant that Great Britain missed out on a chance to make the quarter finals by one place in the standings but did get the opportunity to compete for 13th place.

Firstly, they took on Switzerland in the 13-16 semi-final where they came away with a 14-3 victory.

It was a strong performance from the British team who engaged a strong press to limit the Swiss’ scoring opportunities.

At the opposite end, nine players were amongst the goals as Great Britain returned to winning ways.

Centre forward Perkins added another five to her tally with City of Manchester’s Blenkinship scoring twice.

Pritchard, Ross, Kilb, Skelton, Smith, Pyper and vice-captain Lilly Pryce got her first goal of the competition with a penalty at the end of the third period.

Their reward was a 13th-14th place match against Romania where Great Britain once again hit double figures to seal the victory.

A first quarter hat trick from Blenkinship got Great Britain off to lightening start as they scored seven unanswered goals to start off the contest.

From there they never looked back and expertly managed the match to ensure of a comfortable victory.

Ross impressed as she also grabbed a hat trick in Britain’s final match-up with Skelton and Perkins scoring two apiece as Perkins made it 23 goals across the competition.

Barnes and Pryce completed the scoring as Great Britain made three wins from six after their trip to Turkey.

Captain Brooksbank told LEN after their final match: “I’m just super proud of how far we’ve all come and I’m really, really proud of all the girls and how well we’ve played over this tournament.

“We’ve been as a squad for four years now, so it’s been a long journey. We’ve been through some highs, some lows, but we’ve all stuck together and it really showed in that match at the end.

“Today was emotional as it’s our last game as a squad so it was really good to finish on a win.”

Head Coach Craig Figes said ‘I am really proud of the team and how they have stuck together after the a tough opening group phase.

We were close to beating Serbia, a win that as it turned out, despite our loss to Ukraine, would have put us in the crossover stages to finish in the top 12.

“However, the team continued to work hard, and came back to play some excellent water polo in the 13-16th playoffs and dominated their final two games.

“Thank you to all the team staff, parents and everyone that supported us throughout the tournament, this was appreciated by all of the team.”

You can find all the results from the Championships here