The OVO Australian Waterpolo League kicked off on the weekend, with some of the biggest rivalries in the league taking front and centre.
The opening round was known as the ‘Cole Miller Round’ to pay tribute to former Brisbane Barracudas player Cole Miller, who tragically lost his life in 2016. Clubs across the country retired the number 10 cap, in which Cole used to play, to pay tribute to the young water polo player.
The Western Derby in Perth, saw hosts Fremantle walk away with wins in both the men’s and women’s matches against cross town rivals UWA Torpedoes.
The Marlins took the 8-4 win with coach Bridgette Ireland please with how the team came together.
“They’ve played with each other for a long time, and so their familiarity worked really well with each other.
“They played the tactics exactly how we wanted them to be played, and Lillian Hedges in goal was phenomenal. We are so proud of her (Lilian), and she is like a brick wall for us, so we love having her.
“We want to go onward and upward from here, we really want to work on their self-confidence and self esteem. They are great players, and just to improve every game,” she said.
In the men’s game the Mariners also able to finish a comfortable four goals ahead of UWA Torpedoes with the final score of 7-3.
Three time Olympian Tim Neesham was back in the water with the Mariners and dug deep to help spur on the win.
“It’s good, it’s good fun. Just coming back now, not in any comeback mode, just playing with the boys, they’re good,” said Neesham
Neesham’s return to the competition coincides with his Club’s 20th anniversary of their first Australian Waterpolo League title.
“We really, as a club, we went through a bit of a lull period. We were the number one club for many years, and it’s our 20th Anniversary of our first title, which I happened to play in, which is quite funny.
“We’ve really engaged back as a club, trying to focus on our grassroots, trying to get all the clubs through, we’re doing a local conference league which has worked really well in getting more kids playing, and that’s really paying off with feeding up to the top. Hopefully that means I’ll be getting a tap on the shoulder soon telling me to get up and join the coaches box.
“But until then, we have lost a lot of lefties, our left-handers Luke Pavlav is over in the US and Jordan Taylor is playing in France, so they’ve come down the line to me,” he said.
The rivalry between the two sides is one that both sides enjoy and was an ideal way to kick start the season.
“I have loved the rivalry from many years, it’s good for that sort of rivalry in the sport. You can’t say you hate them, you actually like the fact that they are committed to their polo, and they’ve built a really good club, and a really good ethic so we love playing them,” he said.
In another great Australian Waterpolo League rivalry Brisbane team, Queensland Breakers at home to the Brisbane Barracudas, produced exciting polo for their local fans.
The Queensland Breakers were able to steal the win in the Women’s match 8-6 over the Barracudas.
In the men’s the game went into a penalty shoot-out, with the Brisbane Barracudas able to snatch the victory 11-9.
The Hunter Hurricanes have sent early warnings that they are contenders in 2018, winning three out of four games across the weekend. Despite the Women’s team going down to Drummoyne Devils 3-9 on Saturday, they managed to bounce back on Sunday and take a narrow one goal win 9-8 over Balmain Tigers. http://
Hunter Hurricanes men were able to take two from two wins, defeating the Drummoyne Devils 11-7 and Balmain Tigers 3-3.
In the Shire, ACU Cronulla were at home to the Balmain Tigers on Saturday, with strong crowds in for a nail biter with both matches heading into a penalty shoot-out.
For the Women’s the hosts were able to take 12-9 win after the penalty shoot-out, while the Men’s went down to the Tigers 7-9.
Results from the weekend
For full results and leader board – click here.