2013 NWPL: Finals Day 1


The first match of the series was between the winner of this year’s Regular season, Melbourne, and runner-up, Melville.  These teams happened to play their last two games against each other a couple of weeks ago. Victorian Tigers won both with a 3 and 4 goals margin. But today, the picture was reversed with Fremantle Mariners winning by a 3 goals difference.

Both teams scored 3 field goals each. So the difference came from the conversion of x-man opportunities. Melville was better in this department scoring 3 from 6 whilst the Tigers converted only 1 from 5.  The Westerners also were awarded a penalty shot which they realized.

Two Melville players who did not play for this club last year were outstanding in today’s match. One was  a Croatian, Marko Bratic, who not only scored two field goals through the shots from ‘perimeter’ but was constantly creating dangerous situations in front of the opposition’s goals. The other was a former Melbournian, Jarrod Gilchrist, who also scored two in addition to an enormous amount of useful work he did in attack and defense. Goalkeeper, Edward Slade, and centre-forward, Joel Swift, were the other pivotal factors in Melville’s successful  defensive and  attacking actions.

Melbourne’s better players were James Woods and Sam McGregor but their team’s main problem was that, in general, they failed to unlock the opponent’s zone defence in addition to poor extra-man conversion. Victorian’s main weapon  that they used throughout the entire regular season – namely  outmuscling their opponents with powerful outside shots – did not work in this match. However, whilst today’s result may be disappointing for them, they know that nothing is lost at this stage and they can still make it to the grand-final on Sunday 5 May. Every team that won the Premiership in the previous several years has lost matches in the early stages of the Finals series.

X-man: Melbourne:  5/1 (20%), Melville: 6/3 (50%)

Penalty: Melbourne: 0, Melville: 1/1

Referees: Michael Hart & Andrew Carney

Comments –

Ryan Moody, Melbourne: We were not in form and Fremantle played a thoughtful game. Our shooting conversation rate was low and Eddie Slade played well in goals for them today. We are looking forward to improving our performance together as a team in the following games. I thought Carl Zvekan played very well for us today being composed throughout, making strong saves and spot on passes.

– Marko Bratic, Melville: Our defense won us the game. With our great goal keeper. We were pretty active in defense and we were a team helping each other and this was the key.

Carl Zvekan, Melbourne: Today’s game was an accurate indicator of how important it is to convert a large percentage of shots. We worked hard but failed to finalize the job at hand. The game is an important wake up call for us to avoid complacency and maintain focus at all times.

– Jarrod Gilchrist, Melville: It was very physical game as it generally is between Victoria and Fremantle. We were prepared for a tough encounter and felt a physical game would suit us. The Tigers have been a great team this year, obviously going undefeated is a great achievement, however finals is a different level. We played really well as a team and our defense was a major focus. Keeping the opposition to 4 goals for the game was a fantastic effort considering their shooting power.

Melbourne V Melville 2013 NWPL Finals


Due to the way it was refereed, it turned out to be a very physical game and in the end a fitter Torpedoes team prevailed by outmuscling their opponents as has often been the case  this season. An experienced goalkeeper, Luke Quinlivan, was another important factor in the final positive result for the winners having made several  saves at crucial moments when Drummoyne had real goal-scoring chances. However, one should not be forgetting that the Torpedoes have several very young players – George Ford (19 y.o.),  Nick Hughes (18), Fraser Smith (17) – who are already among the club’s leading playmakers. Americans, Cory Nasoff, Peter Sefton and Brandon Johnston have been proving all season that they are worthy acquisitions in helping the team to not only come third in the Regular season but to be a serious contender in the Finals series.

There was another youngster who impressed in this match. Drummoyne’s Justin Trabinger (18) scored 3 almost identical goals with accurate powerful shooting to keep his team in the match. Two of those were in the extra-man situations – Drummoyne’s only goals from 6 opportunities.  In all those instances, Trabinger skilfully took advantage of the Westerners’ slowness in getting to the right defensive positions.

Having trailed the entire match by 2-3 goals, to their credit, the Drummoyne side displayed a fighting spirit and reduced the deficit to one goal with about 2,5 minutes to go in the match. With about 2 minutes to go, the Devils defended in a man-down situation. Had they been able to defend another one with about  1 minute to go, the end of the match could have been different. But Torpedoes’ 21 years old Henry Brown took the responsibility upon himself and scored from outside in a 3:3 extra-man attacking formation to seal an important win for his team.

X-man: Torpedoes: 10/4 (40%), Drummoyne 6/2 (33%)

Referees: Daniel Bartels and Daniel Flahive

Comments –

Adam Richardson, Drummoyne’s Head Coach: This game was typical of our season – some good patches and some horrible patches, and when it counted we were unable to stand up. We had our chances and were unable to convert goals and conceded too many easy goals where Perth where not made to earn them.

Andrei Kovalenko, UWA Torpedoes’ Head Coach: I’m very happy, any time you get a win it’s a win and we haven’t won a finals game for nearly ten years.


Unlike the previous two matches it was a high-scoring game. Both teams were playing  ‘open’  counter-attacking water polo and taking a lot of risks by having shots when the opposing team would have a good chance to punish if the shot was unsuccessful. That was the main reason as to why the Queenslanders jumped to a 6:2 lead by the middle of the second period.

But the very experienced Magpies found their rhythm with leaders, Richard Campbell, Daniel Swinnerton, Daniel Streets, Cory Eames and Trent Blewitt rallying their team’s  impressive come-back by scoring  through a number of sophisticated shots and reducing the goal difference to 1 by the middle of the last quarter.

However, the end of the match was similar to its beginning. Brisbane were able to capitalize on  Wests’ mistakes that presented their opponents with 3 goal-scoring counter-attacking opportunities  which the latter used to increase the goal difference to four with 2,5 minutes to go. That is when the game was virtually over. The main damage to the opposition was done by well-synchronised and skilful actions of Barracudas’ leaders,  Rhys Howden, BJ Howden, Billy Miller, Daniel Young  and American, Caleb Hamilton, who all contributed well to achieve the positive  defensive and attacking actions  at the end of the match.

X-man: Wests  11/5 (46%), Brisbane 9/4 (44%)

Referees: Nick Hodgers and David Geary

In my opinion, there were several refereeing ‘inaccuracies’,  if not mistakes, in the fourth period when the teams were separated by 1-2 goals only. Those calls led to the goals that otherwise would not have been scored or counted and that affected how the match was developing in the last several minutes and final result.

— — —

Whilst the Ryde Aquatic Leisure Centre is a reasonable venue, it would have been more appropriate and fitting if the ‘flagship Australian domestic  competition’s Grand-Finals of the National Water Polo League’ were held at the Sydney Olympic pool in Homebush where the conditions are much better for teams’ match preparation. There is inadequate lighting during the evening matches and uncomfortable seatings for spectators at Ryde.

Ryde swimming pool

There was plenty of time to organize the venue and prepare  the Finals’ information booklet  about the participants for public’s convenience. Yet the data is missing not only about some individuals but entire teams.

2013 NL teams' data 001 NL-2013 Teams' data 001

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

8 Responses to 2013 NWPL: Finals Day 1

  1. Simon Asher says:

    Hey Erkin

    Great commentary! For a person who isn’t able to make the finals, your insight is much appreciated. I look forward to the next round.

    I trust your well, All the best Simon

    On Fri, May 3, 2013 at 1:19 AM, “Erkin Shagaev Water Polo Эркин Шагаев

    • Thank you Simon! I am well! Good to hear from you!

    • Ray Myers says:

      Thanks for your reports Erkin, it is much appreciated and I totally agree with you regarding the venue, adequate but not ideal. I look forward to reading the next reports. Please let us know your thoughts on the finals “competiton program” Does it reward the teams that finished high on the ladder? In your opinion do the lower teams get too much advantage for just making the finals. What would your finals schedule be?

      • Thank you Ray! Whilst a ’round robin’ competition system versus an ‘elimination’ one have their pros and cons, one point is certain: there have to be incentives and rewards for the teams to be finishing in the top bracket of a ‘regular’ stage prior to a ‘final’ stage. As it stands at present, the ‘value’ of winning a ‘preliminary’ round ( the ‘Southern Cross Trophy’, for that matter) or finishing as a runner-up is diminished due to the absence of such incentives. It feels unfair if a team plays well winning most of the matches has one poor game and losses all as opposed to a team that has an ‘indifferent’ attitude to the matches other than in the finals – and you can not blame anyone for this.That is what happened to Wests Magpies last year – they had an excellent entire season only to miss on the top two bracket in the Grand-Final due to one poor match. At the time, Victorian Tigers and Fremantle Mariners, for that matter, took advantage of the system. However, if you want to be number one, you have to be able to beat everyone – one might say. Perhaps, another factor that ‘contributes’ to the imbalance is the difference in strengths between the teams which enables the top teams to have an easier run in the preliminary stage. We can talk more about it though.

      • Ray Mayers says:

        I understand that WPA wish to have as many “high quality” games as possible during the final series to help prepare the players for the upcoming international tours & tornaments, but it could be argued that the clubs which particpate in the national league and help fund the competing players through sponsorship should want the best result possible for their respective clubs and like most competitons throughout Australia & the world the top teams throughout the competition rounds are then rewarded with a double chance having earnt that right during the rounds. Perhaps we should even look at making the finals series a “top” 8 teams rather than “Top” 6 as the make up of both mens & womens finals competion were decide from the last round. This way the finals series can be played similar to the AFL final series where the top 4 teams play against each other to decide who progress and the bottom 4 teams play elimination games. We would then get the required”hard” games WPA are looking for and the NL teams can fight it out for supremacy in a very fair way.

        Under the current system the Adelaide womens team which finished 4th on the ladder won one game and lost one game in the finals series and now has been relegated to 5th or 6th spot, where Cronulla who finshed 6th on the ladder lost one game & won game progress to the semi finals.

        There is plenty of room for robust discussions regarding the system we use for finals to accommodate the wishes of WPA & the clubs which provide training & support for the players

      • Thank you for the comments Ray.

  2. Jeff Barrow says:

    I think the finals format is flawed and I doubt any of the clubs and players ( I maybe represent a men’s view and also may be wrong) would endorse it.
    It is possible for a side to finish 6th and then win one game, and advance to the semi finals!
    I know this may be premature to even comment as a coach whilst the tournament is still being played, but I am totally unaware of any discussion on this format. It was introduced half way through the season and was not one of the three options notified via the survey. Again – I am happy to stand corrected if I am wrong or have missed something.
    It is still up to the best team to win the title but I doubt this is a fair or rewarding system. I am confused if the original concept for the NWPL finals was to prepare national teams for competition then this is not a format that is played in any tournament or any other sport that I am aware of.
    I agree that last year Wests were clearly the best team during the season.

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