2012 NWPL: Balmain 5 : 8 UWA Torpedoes

Despite Balmain’s standing in this season’s National League, it is still a very strong team. For the young Torpedoes’ side to beat them twice in Sydney is a good achievement in itself. European Champion and Olympic & World Championships medallist, Andrei Kovalenko, has done an excellent job revitalising the University of Western Australia Torpedoes over the last 3 years.  The water polo that his team displays is a reflection on not only good coaching but also the logistical and organisational work that Andrei has been doing to create one of the best water polo centres in Western Australia. The efforts of Kovalenko and other Torpedoes enthusiasts have paid off. For the first time in many years, a second Western Australian team is among the serious contenders to finish in the top 6 teams after the regular season.

In today’s match, Joseph Balczer, Bret McGhie and American, Charlie Steffens, scored most of Torpedoes’ goals, outmuscling their opponents in individual contests. Given the poor lighting conditions at the Balmain baths at night, Luke Quinlivan was solid in the goals having made a number of good saves, including a one-on-one.

The Westerners  play their next two matches in Newcastle. These will be  tough encounters as the Hunter Hurricanes are also aspiring to make the top six as are Drummoyne Devils and Sydney University.

X-man: Balmain 6/2 (33%); UWA Torpedoes 5/2 (40%)

Referees: Nick Hodgers and Andrew Carney

Coaches’ and players’ comments –

– Phillip Bower (B):

Without Gavin Woods we were always going to find it hard against a very good UWA team. Gavin and I decided yesterday that it was best for him to rest rather than risk a minor injury becoming worse. I know Gav would have played if I had insisted.

Our game plan was to control our attack using Connor Martin as a centre forward and to really make it a physical contest when we defended. For the first 3/4’s of the game we did just that, although we did allow a soft Centre Forward goal. After being 2 goals down during the 3rd we showed great spirit to get back to even starting the last quarter. Unfortunately this is when it all fell apart with two soft centre forward goals against us and we lost our way completely. Our less experienced players tried to score during every attack. Wrong options and just a lack of composure by us sealed the game for UWA. Our error count in the last quarter was twice as much as the first 3.

It was good to be back coaching after a two game break but it is so frustrating to see my players taking short cuts when in defence. Hopefully we will all learn from this and we will grow into a better team next season.

Tonight many of my players gave their all but I would like to single out a few. James Clark was superb in goals but was let down on 4 occasions by poor centre back defence. Connor Martin and Ian Calpin played so well, with Connor filling the Centre Forward role and Ian working overtime all over the pool.

We can’t make the final six now. Our aim now is to support both Gav and James as they strive to make the Olympics. I would like to congratulate UWA, they play an entertaining brand of Polo and it is always a pleasure to see and hear Andre Kovalenko on the side of the pool. In both our games against UWA the Refereeing has been of a good standard with the 4 Referees who officiated handling the pressure very well.

– Andrei Kovalenko (T):

Tonight’s game was another good win for the UWA Torpedoes. With so much on the line for us coming into this game, it was nice to see everyone perform well under this pressure. At times however, I witnessed a noticeable lapse of concentration from some of the players leading to numerous losses of the ball and at times easy goals against us. After having secured a 3 goal lead a few minutes into the third quarter, the team was lured into a false sense of security. This in turn led to the score line returning to  5-all  by the end of the third quarter. It was very nice to see how the team pulled together in the last quarter and overpowered Balmain to secure our 8-5 win. Disregarding these lapses of concentration, the team played very well on both sides of the pool.

– Gavin Woods (B):

With the season on the line the team played with a lot more enthusiasm and when we played with more movement we created plenty of opportunities. Some of the young boys  stepped up and managed to convert when needed. Unfortunately we couldn’t maintain this for 4 quarters and with UWA capitalising some or our errors the game just got away from us.

– Charlie Steffens (T):

Balmain was a quality opponent despite the loss of Gavin Woods.

Nevertheless, the win was well deserved and very

important for our finals campaign, as well as our development as a team.

– Mohamed Ali (B):

We came into the game knowing that we couldn’t afford to lose it.  Unfortunately, we were missing our best player (Gavin Woods) which  left a very big gap in our attack. Our game plan was to play a fast counter attacking game with lots of picks and screens, knowing that WA would be tired after playing us and the Wests Magpies. We did manage to stick to the game plan in the first 3 quarters.  However we didn’t finish it off, by letting them score 3 easy counter attacking and centre-forward goals in the last 4 minutes of the game.  Consequently, there is now only a remote possibility of making the final. All we have to do now is to stay positive and keep fighting till the last game of the season.

– George Ford (T):

Tonight was another tough game. Balmain was unlucky not to have Gavin Woods. In spite of this, they fought well to bring the game to 5-5 at three quarter time. Torpedoes’ superior fitness eventually got the better of our opponent tonight. It was equally pleasing that we were able to defend double extra man and other attacking chances Balmain were given to keep them scoreless in the last quarter.

– James Falzon (B):

To have any chance of playing in the finals this year, we had to win tonight against a UWA team that has played very well throughout the season. We started well and for the first three quarters we played with a composure that has often escaped us this year. Although as has happened often throughout our season, we were unable to capitalize on this position by allowing UWA to score a number of quick ‘soft’ goals early in the quarter and we were not able to convert our opportunities especially in extra man situations. It is disappointing to continue to lose games by making the same mistakes.  Thank you Erkin for taking the time to watch each of the national games and write  your analysis.

– Connor Martin (B):

Disappointing result. As it has been the case all season we have been able to compete for 2-3 quarters but have been unable to grind out the win. Tonight was no exception. No excuses tonight, if we took our opportunities the result would have been different but that wasn’t the case. Offensively, we have not worked cohesively which shows in our minimal goal scoring statistics this year. Tonight, James Clark was solid in goals, as always. Regroup, then another game on Friday against Cronulla to attempt to salvage our season.

– Luke Quinlivan (T):

Tonight’s game was well fought by Balmain considering they were missing key centre forward, Gavin Woods. The most promising thing  from our perspective was our transition into counter attack. It provided us with not only a few handy goals, but some extra man opportunities at critical moments when we needed to score as well. Our main focus now is to be forensic about the implementation of our game plan, and not allow ourselves to succumb to distractions like we did against Wests yesterday. They are a quality team and command nothing but a first class performance if we’re going to beat them.

– James Clark (B):

Our preparation both physically and mentally going into this game was much better; however, it had little to no affect. With Gavin not playing our attacking structure seemed chaotic but there were some occasions where players were able to fill the void and earn exclusions or goals at the CF position, which was pleasing. Defensively we were better although minor lapses again cost us easy goals especially from CF. If we want to compete with the top teams this is unacceptable. Going into the last quarter we were even and I felt like the game should’ve been ours but again we were unable to clear that last hurdle, which unfortunately has been our down fall all year. We will have to regather quickly to get over Cronulla tomorrow night.

About Erkin Эркин Shagaev Шагаев
European, world, Olympic champion, two times World Cup winner Чемпион Европы, мира, Олимпийских игр, двукратный обладатель Кубка мира

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