British team suffer opening defeat

03 May 2012 / 22:37

The Great Britain women's water polo team gave a spirited performance as they lost to Australia on the opening day of a test event at the Olympic Park.

A home crowd of 3,000 saw them battle with one of the world's strongest sides to come away with a respectable 10-4 defeat. Team GB kept close to their opponents for the first half, but their failure to convert from extra-player situations cost them dear, and lapses in concentration in the second half meant the scoreline flattered the Australians.

The four-team invitational tournament is part of the London Prepares series at various Olympic venues in the run up to the Games later this year.

Great Britain took an early lead but the Australians pulled away to score four in the final quarter, with the hosts only able to score once.

Captain Fran Leighton said: "I think we had a strong first half, but as you can see from the stats at the end, we weren't making our conversions on the man-ups (when Australia had a player or players in the sin-bin).

"A lot of our shots were hitting the woodwork or hitting the chest of the goalie - probably making her look a lot better than she was during that game. So it's just about changing those things around. We all worked hard and we all fought together as one unit and I think we've got to be pleased with that."

Coach Szilveszter Fekete, from Hungary, said: "It could be better, it could be worse. Australia this year have been the best team and they have won every tournament they have been in."

Earlier in the competition two-time Olympic silver medalists USA beat Hungary by 11-6. All four teams have already qualified for London 2012, so the tournament is a perfect opportunity for Team GB to play against top-class teams in the Olympic arena.

Asked about the home support, Leighton added: "When we walked out I could feel the nerves, but it was excitement rather than thinking 'Oh my God'. And looking up at the crowd cheering and getting behind us was absolutely amazing.

"Now we've got that first game out of the way we can sort of relax a little bit. We know what the atmosphere's like, we know what it's like when we're playing. It's going to settle us down for when we come to the Olympics. We know the pool and it's going to feel a lot more like a home venue."