Aust women miss 10th water polo win in row
The Australian women’s water polo team fell a whisker shy of winning their tenth straight game, going down to Italy 11-10 on Thursday in their final group match at the FINA World League Super Finals in China.
Leading by three with a quarter to play, Australia looked set to continue their winning streak that began against China at the Aquatic Super Series in Perth in January and included six wins at the World League Intercontinental Tournament in California last month and triumphs over Brazil and China in the past 48 hours in Kunshan.
Italy powered home on a wave of momentum with six goals in the final quarter to steal the win.
Despite the loss, Australia are just three victories away from a first World League title ahead of Friday night’s quarter-finals. They will learn their last-eight opponents later on Thursday.
The Italians opened the match by nailing three extra-man chances in the first term to lead 3-1 at quarter-time, Australia’s goal a penalty by prolific scorer Rowie Webster.
In the second stanza, Webster scored another, Glencora McGhie netted her first and, in the cage, Kelsey Wakefield stopped an Italian penalty shot to have the Stingers trailing only 3-4 at the main break.
Then came a stunning third-quarter Stingers blitz for the second straight night with goals to Ash Southern and Webster in extra-man, a second strike to McGhie and first goals to captain Bronwen Knox and centre-forward Jayde Appel. That gave them an 8-5 advantage and a seemingly insurmountable lead.
However, in the final quarter, Italy converted four extra-man opportunities to claim the win and top spot in the group.
The Australians will be buoyed by their ability to string together long-goal scoring runs but will also be keen to lower their expulsion count, minimising the opposition’s extra-player chances.