Conference Finals Men’s A-Grade Wrap

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THE South Fremantle Bloods and Port Colts brought hot form into the South Conference Final on Saturday and produced a Men’s A-Grade classic decided with penalties while the North Conference was won by Triton.

After a competitive and entertaining 10 rounds of the regular season in the Men’s A-Grade competition for 2020, the Conference Finals took place on Saturday afternoon and there was some tremendous water polo played across the two pools.

The South Conference finals took place at Bicton Pool beginning with the playoff between third and fourth which saw the Melville Sharks prevail 13-10 against Dolphins.

The main event then saw the South Fremantle Bloods and Port Colts lock horns in a battle of two powerful Melville teams. With the Bloods undefeated through the season and the Port Colts amassing an 8-2 record, the game always promised plenty and it certainly delivered.

In the end it was decided in penalties and it was the Bloods who beat the Colts 17-16 after those in what would have been a contest befitting a Grand Final of the competition for 2020.

It also suggests that the Fremantle Mariners are going to be a force again should the Australian Water Polo League go ahead early in 2021.

Then it was onto the North Conference Finals played at HBF Stadium on Saturday starting with the battle of third against fourth. That saw two UWA teams compete with City Beach ending up winning 13-12 against Rangers.

The winners of the North Conference was then decided between Triton and UWA Flotsam, with the experience and class of Triton winning out in the end as they prevailed 10-6.

The Conference Finals results not only mean that the South Fremantle Bloods are South Conference premiers and Triton are North Conference premiers, but the two teams will now meet in this Saturday’s Grand Final.

That will determine the Men’s A-Grade premiership for 2020 and will be played at Bicton Pool from 3.30pm.

The battle of third against fourth in the South Conference got things underway on Saturday at Bicton Pool between the Melville Sharks and Dolphins.

Dolphins started impressively too despite being the lower ranked team scoring the opening three goals through Colin Powers and two from Jeremy Carbone.

Then despite a couple of goals back from the Sharks by Petar Tomasevic and Joel Swift, Powers added two more for Dolphins to see them lead 5-2 after one.

But the Sharks warmed up in the second quarter and when Damon Jervis scored shortly before half-time scores were all tied at 6-6.

Things were then 7-7 after a goal each to open the second half before the Sharks went ahead thanks to Patrick Dart. Luke McManus extended the lead and from there Melville was able to pull away and score the 13-10 victory to end the season in third position of the South Conference.

Petar Tomasevic and Patrick Dart scored three goals each for the Sharks, Damon Jervis two, Joel Swift two and Luke McManus two. Colin Powers finished with five for Dolphins and Jeremy Carbone four.

The main event in the South Conference always promised a lot between the South Fremantle Bloods and Port Colts, and what transpired was a tremendous contest.

South Fremantle did get the first two goals through Nick Elphick and then a penalty from Luke Pavillard, but the Colts got the next two from Luca Altieri and Davis Verboon.

The Bloods led 3-2 at quarter-time thanks to a Toby Muir goal but the Colts levelled things again shortly into the second term through Drew Verboon. The first half followed a similar path with the Bloods scoring and Colts responding with scores locked at 6-6 at the change of ends.

South Fremantle eventually did breakaway to lead 10-7 during the third quarter but Port Colts responded with the next three goals to Cody Smith, Jordan Kremers-Taylor and Davis Verboon to again lock things away setting up a thrilling finish.

Elphick gave the Bloods the 11-10 lead but 20 seconds later Kremers-Taylor responded for the Colts. Pavillard then put South Fremantle in front again only for Smith to reply and then scores were 12-12 at the end of regulation.

That meant penalties would decide the South Conference, and the Bloods were perfect going five from five. Port Colts missed one of theirs and that was enough for South Fremantle to win the game 17-16 and advance to the Grand Final.

Luke Pavillard scored seven goals all up for the Bloods, Alastair Bruce three, Nick Elphick three and Toby Muir two. Luca Altieri finished with four goals for the Port Colts, Cody Smith four, Jordan Kremers-Taylor three and Davis Verboon two.

The North Conference finals got underway at HBF Stadium with the battle of UWA teams, and in the end it was City Beach beating Rangers 13-12 to earn a third place finish for the season.

Charlie Emanuel scored three goals for City Beach, Ollie Sheldrick two, Taz Williams two and Owen Lilleyman two. Campbell McAullay finished with four goals for Rangers, Innes-Leslie Ibbitson two, Will Marshall two, Ben Marshall two and Riley Childs two.

The North Conference was then decided when the top two teams locked horns and Triton took on UWA Flotsam.

It was quite the impressive Triton team including Olympians Luke Quinlivan and Florian Naroska, former Torpedoes star veteran Brett McGhie and rising stars Matt Oberman and Lewis Putt, and as a result they raced to a 4-1 lead over Flotsam.

That became 6-2 by half-time and 9-2 early in the fourth quarter when Oberman scored. But Flotsam then finished with a flurry with three goals in no time from Nick Hughes and another from Tom Sangster.

Despite that spirited finish, Triton had done enough to win 10-6 and advantage to the Grand Final.

Matt Oberman scored three goals for Triton and Lewis Putt two while Nick Hughes finished with four goals for Flotsam.