The Australian men’s water polo team have created history by winning their first gold medal at a major international event, beating Brazil 9-6 at the FINA World League Intercontinental tournament in Carona del Mar, California.
Akin to their semi final against the USA, it was a strong defensive effort by the Aussie Sharks that won the game, with two time Olympian James Stanton-French a standout performer in goals, as he saved 10 of Brazil’s shooting attempts, while also being named goalkeeper of the tournament.
The game was the second meeting between Australia and Brazil after the two sides had contested the opening game of the tournament, however unlike the first game, it was the Australian’s who led early, establishing the win during the second quarter of the game.
Head Coach Elvis Fatovic said that the team had put in their best performance in what was their sixth successive win for the week.
“I am really satisfied with the way we played, especially to win the game. It is not easy to play six international games in six days, and we won them all,” Fatovic said.
“We played our best defence for the tournament against Brazil and that allowed us a comfortable situation in attack. We stopped their counter attack, which helped us dominate through the game.”
Australia led Brazil 2-1 at quarter time, with young Western Australian George Ford and Sydney’s Tyler Martin scoring for the Sharks. Brazil retaliated in the second term to draw level 3-3 mid way through the piece, however Australia’s Nathan Power, Jarrod Gilchrist and dual Olympian Richie Campbell all converted to establish a 6-3 margin at half time.
Brazilian Bernardo Gomes made life difficult for the Australians early in the third stanza as he converted a penalty goal, however the Sharks then stacked on another three unanswered goals amidst strong defence, preventing seven shooting attempts from the Brazilians in the process to lead 9-4 at the final change.
It was again Brazil who scored first to commence the final period courtesy of Felippe Perrone who top scored for the tournament, while countryman Paul Salemi also scored to edge Brazil closer to the Aussies. Despite Brazil’s best efforts, the story of the day was the Australian defence that withstood the Brazilians offense in the closing stages of the game.
Aussie Shark assistant coach Paul Oberman echoed Fatovic in his praise of Australia’s defence, noting that offensive play is now the area that the Sharks have room to improve on.
“It was a good defensive game played by the team. They showed the intensity required for the whole game and put pressure on the Brazilians,” Oberman said.
“We still have room to improve with our execution in attack, especially when we are a few goals ahead like we were today, so we can finish the opposition off and secure victories.”
Meanwhile 2012 Olympian Aidan Roach saw the victory as the chance to lay the groundwork for future success for the Aussie Sharks.
“It was a great way to finish the tournament, especially with the defensive effort we put in today. Hopefully this provides us with a solid platform to work from for the FINA World League Super Final in Italy,” Roach said.
The Sharks next assignment will now be the FINA World League Super Final form June 23-28 in Bergamo, Italy, before the team contests the FINA World Championships from August 5-16 in Kazan, Russia.
Game #: 6 (Final)
Name 13 who played: James Stanton-French, Richie Campbell, George Ford, Johnno Cotterill, Nathan Power, Jarrod Gilchrist, AJ Roach, Lachlan Edwards, Joel Swift, Tyler Martin, Rhys Howden, Billy Miller, James Clark
Result: Australia 9 bt Brazil 6
Quarters: 2-1, 4-2, 3-1, 0-2
X Man for: Australia scored 1 from 10 opportunities
X Man against: Brazil scored 1 from 7 opportunities
AUS scorers: R Campbell 2, N Power 2, G Ford, J Gilchrist, J Swift, T Martin, R Howden
Originally posted by Water Polo Australia