Silver for Stingers at 2013 FINA World Championships

They were brave, they were gallant and they were gracious. But Australia’s women’s water polo team, the Aussie Stingers, have fallen at the final hurdle succumbing to the brilliant play of Spain 8-6 in the women’s gold medal match at the FINA World Championships in Barcelona.

The Aussies started slowly, suffering from a bout of pre-match jitters, and never recovered as they handed Spain an early buffer with three extra-man goals. Their extra player defence torn apart!

Australia rallied and was within touching distance at 2-3 and 3-4, before Spain’s determination in front of their packed home crowd told as they leapt out to a 3-6 lead.

The Stingers weren’t without their chances and continued to threaten but Spain’s keeper Laura Ester and skipper Jennifer Pareja were inspirational – creating the game breaking plays at both ends of the pool.

Spain now boasts a first women’s world championship title and becomes the first nation to win the gold medal on home soil. Australia settles for the silver, but by no means is it a failure.

The Stingers secure Australia’s highest finish at the world championships since Melbourne in 2007, record their best result on foreign soil since the inaugural gold medal victory in 1986, and collect Australia’s second silver and fourth medal in the history of the world titles.

Coach Greg McFadden was disappointed by the final result, but gave full credit to Spain and praised his girls for a wonderful tournament and earmarked a great future for them given their three month preparation.

“While we didn’t come away with the result we wanted today we are very proud of the girls. It was a very tough game. Spain played very well, their keeper had an outstanding game and we couldn’t convert our opportunities,” McFadden said. “Our defence was very good and that’s what we’ve been working on, but Spain has been together for three years, they’ve won a world junior championship, they played in the gold medal final at the Olympics and they’re a very experienced team and are used to playing in this hostile environment. For our girls, they’ve only been together three months and it’s been a fantastic effort so we can hold our heads high and are very proud of everyone.”

Rowie Webster, who scored a crucial goal in the second term and was selected in the team of the tournament, said it was a tough loss to take but said the future was bright for the team. “It was tough game and we had the crowd against us. We had our opportunities but we missed out on them. We won bronze at the Olympics and silver here so we are now ready to fight for the gold at the next competition,” Webster said.

Zoe Arancini, Glencora McGhie, Ashleigh Southern, Holly Lincoln-Smith, Isobel Bishop and Webster all scored singles in the loss, with McGhie, Lincoln-Smith and Arancini named among Australia’s better players.

Webster was joined in the All Star team by Ester and Pareja – who were the goalkeeper and MVP of the tournament – while Hungary wrapped up the bronze medal with a 10-8 win over Russia.

Australia’s attention now turns the Aussie Sharks, whose final game of the tournament is a seventh versus eighth showdown against Serbia which starts at 11pm tonight AEST.

Aussie Stingers: Lea Barta, Jayde Appel, Hannah Buckling, Holly Lincoln Smith, Isobel Bishop, Bronwen Knox, Rowie Webster, Glencora McGhie, Zoe Arancini, Ashleigh Southern, Keesja Gofers, Nicola Zagame, Kelsey Wakefield

Result: Australia 6 bt Spain 8

Quarters: 1-2, 2-3, 1-1, 2-2

X Man for: TBA

X Man against: TBA

AUS scorers: H Lincoln-Smith, I Bishop, R Webster, G McGhie, A Southern, Z Arancini Best players: G McGhie, H Lincoln-Smith, Z Arancini

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