Sharks finish eight at 2013 FINA World Championships

Australia’s men’s water polo team, the Aussie Sharks, have finished their campaign on a sour note going down to Serbia 13-7 in their seventh versus eighth classification game at the FINA World Championships in Barcelona.

The Sharks were gallant in the opening half pushing Serbia to 4-5 at the main break, only to see the Europeans inflict a horror run of eight goals to three to consign Australia to eighth place.

Despite recording their best place finish at a FINA World Championship since 2003, the Sharks will see the final result as the one that got away.

After their heartbreaking extra time defeat to Croatia in the quarter-finals, the Australians struggled to recapture their best form against Greece and Serbia.

Head coach Elvis Fatovic was left to rue the missed chances, but believed his team had made great inroads on their European rivals.

“We played really well until the quarterfinals. After that I was a little bit disappointed with my team. After this championship we are one step closer to the European teams, as we have played against great teams. Our goal was to play well and we did very well for five games. We had a hard group with no easy games, so now my players are really tired,” Fatovic said. “Today we played a good first half when we still had enough energy to competing against Serbia. However Serbia was able to convert their opportunities from our bad mistakes and won the game easily. I am satisfied with our presentation in the first five games but unfortunately after our game against Croatia we could not maintain our intensity and consistency.”

Sharks skipper Rhys Howden was equally dejected by the team’s 13-7 loss and said the boys deserved better after their gruelling feats in Europe and Barcelona.

“Unfortunately we didn’t achieve the win we wanting to give ourselves a better end to our seven week tour,” Howden said. “They were a much better team on the day with their defence working overtime to stop our attempts. We lacked everything in attack and it’s very disappointing finish this way.”

Howden was again one of the standouts for Australia bagging two goals, while centre forward Joel Swift furthered his credentials as a player of the future with two powerful strikes at the two metres.

The Australians will now regroup and begin preparations for their three year journey to Rio 2016, with many lessons to be learnt from the world championships.

London Olympian Johnno Cotterill admitted the Sharks may have got ahead of themselves after the quarter-final loss to Croatia, but was confident the team would be better for the experience.

“In this championship we could have beaten Croatia and in the semi-finals we would have faced Hungary, against whom we tied previously, so we saw ourselves in the final. The defeat really hurt us. In the last two games we lost respect in ourselves but we have three years from now to improve as a new team,” Cotterill said.

In the final men’s results, Hungary claimed their third world title with victory over Montenegro, while Croatia defeated Italy for the bronze.

Aussie Sharks: Joel Dennerley, Richard Campbell, Matthew Martin, Johnno Cotterill, Nathan Power, Jarrod Gilchrist, Aidan Roach, Aaron Younger, Joel Swift, Tyler Martin, Rhys Howden (c), William Miller, James Clark

Result: Australia 7 lost to Serbia 13 Quarters: 2-3, 2-2, 2-4, 1-4

X Man for: Australia scored 3 from 6

X Man against: Serbia scored 4 from 8

AUS scorers: J Swift 2, R Howden 2, A Roach, A Younger, B Miller

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