Overnight the Australian men’s water polo team has claimed bronze at the FINA World League Super Final after a narrow 11-10 victory over Spain.
The Aussie Sharks lead throughout the match and were able to keep the Spanish at bay, capping off a huge six days of competition.
The bronze medal adds to the team’s silverware after claiming a historic silver medal last year at the 2018 FINA World Cup and sets the team up nicely ahead of next month’s World Championships in South Korea.
Aussie Sharks Head Coach Elvis Fatovic was very pleased with how his side delivered throughout the FINA World League Super Final campaign.
“I feel really moved that my team could win this medal, a second one within a year at a FINA event.
“The boys deserve all the credits. They fought with their hearts, they didn’t collapse mentally when Spain could equalise after a long battle, instead, they managed to score again and again. I am really proud of them,” said Fatovic.
After five days of intense competition there was much at stake for both teams who were determined not to walk away empty handed. Three goals from Olympian Joe Kayes along with goals from Aaron Younger and triple Olympian Rhys Howden saw the Aussies take a nice 5-4 lead at the end of the first half.
Despite the Sharks coming out strong in the third period to give themselves a three goal lead, Spain weren’t about to give up and fought back within the dying seconds of the quarter. The Sharks went in to the final period with a 9-8 lead.
Spain were first to get on the board in the final period to lock up the scores. But the Sharks had the bronze medal in their sight and began to fight back with another goal from Kayes and Richie Campbell was enough to seal the deal and give the Sharks a podium finish.
NSW Institute of Sport athlete Joe Kayes was named MVP of the match after producing four goals for the side. He said the team were thrilled with the result.
“The boys are stoked; it’s been a long six days for us. We knew it would be more of a mental battle just as it would be physical and we just managed to hold them and play our game for the whole four quarters so we are really stoked and looking forward to World Champs,” said Kayes.
The Aussie Sharks will now move their focus to the FINA World Championships to be held in Gwangju, South Korea from 14-28 July 2019.
Bronze medal match
Australia v Spain 11-10
Quarters: 3-1, 2-3, 4-4, 2-2
AUSTRALIA: Joel Dennerley (9/19, 47.4%), Anthony Hrysanthos (GK, n. e.) – Richard Campbell (1), George Ford, Joseph Kayes (4), Nathan Power, Edwards Lachlan, Aidan Roach, Aaron Younger (3), Lachlan Hollis, Rhys Howden (2), Blake Edwards (1). Coach: Elvis Fatovic
Shots: AUS: 11/25, 44.0%; ESP: 10/27, 37.0%
Extramen: AUS: 4 for 9; ESP: 4 for 11