Kiwis retain shield in water polo tri-series
DESPITE late goals to Joel Smith and Alex Brischetto, Australia was forced to settle for an 8-all draw against New Zealand in a tri-series water polo decider at Alstonville.
The Combined High Schools boys’ teams could not be separated, playing out three straight drawn matches in the series.
The Kiwis take home the title based on tournament rules after winning the competition for the previous two years.
“You would be hard pressed to find a drawn series with any two (water polo) countries in the world,” New Zealand coach Zoli Boros said.
“To have 13 blokes so evenly matched and produce that consistently across three games is pretty special.
“Lucky for us we retain the shield based on the nature of the competition.
“The pressure was on but our defence was strong and we worked hard to stop Australia from scoring in the final quarter.”
New Zealand centre-forward Max Wolf played well in the final while Campbell Hulburt finished the game with a hat-trick.
Vice-captain Kiahi Horan scored two goals while Marcus Berehulak and Smith finished the game with doubles for Australia.
“We had three quality games and the boys played out of their skins,” Australian coach Mark Holden said.
“They kept fighting and no-one really loses in the end, so it was a great tri-series.
“I haven’t seen a draw play out like that in a long time.
“New Zealand have been very dominant over the past few years and this is the closest series I can remember.
“I think we only lose three guys next year, that’s a good start and hopefully we keep improving.
“A lot of them are in NSW, Queensland and Australian Institute of Sport teams, hopefully they’re ability and commitment takes them on to a higher level.”
Meanwhile, the girls’ competition also came down to a decider with Australia prevailing 9-7.
Grace Coleman scored a hat-trick for Australia while teammates Alice Campbell and Sienna Green scored two goals each.
New Zealand’s Rachel Dean and Lucia Doak also found the net twice.
The competition was the first of a handful of higher level tournaments expected to be played at Alstonville over the next 12 months.