2013 NWPL: Finals Day 3 – semi-final matches


Today’s match was the most exciting of all in this Finals series so far. Melville went to a 4:1 lead by the beginning of the second quarter. All four of their goals were well executed: 1 – in a man-up situation, by Joel Swift, 1 – by a centre-forward, Joel Swift, 1 – after a quick counter-attack by Marco Bratic and 1 from a powerful outside shot by Nick Redbond.  Torpedoes contributed to this score-line by failing to convert  five extra-man chances in a row  after  scoring first through a counter-attack  by George Ford.

It was Torpedoes’ veteran, Brett McGhie, who displayed true leadership qualities to ignite his team’s impressive come-back and eventual win by creating goal-scoring opportunities as well as finishing them. His match tally was 4 goals from the team’s 8. Nineteen years old, George Ford, was another Torpedo’s hero. Not only did the ball hit the back of the net 3 times after his shots at crucial moments. Ford had the responsibility of marking one of the best Australian centre-forwards, Swift,  and has done a great job in the pivotal centre-back position.

The end of the game was dramatic. With about  30 seconds to go in the match, Torpedoes had a two goals lead. Their relative inexperience showed by not realizing that in those circumstances match psychology is such that referees could be lenient towards the opposition and use any excuse to give them another chance. That is what happened when Melville were given possession when otherwise it may not be the case. With 22,5 seconds to go, Joel Swift reduced the score to 1. With 13 seconds to go, Melville again got ball possession and could have scored. In both those instances, it was referee, Daniel Flahive, who made those change-over calls.

To simply report that Torpedoes made it to the Grand-Final  in many years would be an understatement.  There is a narrative behind this success of how Perth’s ‘second tier’ club – an ‘Ugly Duckling’ – that has always been overshadowed by its ‘big brother’, Fremantle Mariners,  became a ‘Beautiful Swan’ that Western Australia is so famous for. There is a difference though between the fairytale and the real life Torpedoes’ achievement – that is, it came through sheer hard work and love of the sport by Head-Coach,  Andrei Kovalenko, and  other enthusiasts whose commitment and dedication helped make the dream come true.

Another dimension to this story is that it was Torpedoes’ second official win over their archrivals this season.  And it was not just a win.  The result was also important psychologically because this had been one of the main factors in Torpedoes’  inability to beat their rivals on many previous occasions. This was a historic – big time – victory that can be compared to a tectonic shift that has the potential to change the water polo landscape in Western Australia.

X-man: Torpedoes 8/4 (50%); Melville 12/4 (33%)

Penalty: Torpedoes 1/1; Melville 0

Referees: Daniele Flahive and Nick Hodgers

Comments –

Edward Slade, Fremantle: Today was a very disappointing result for us. We played the game into the Torpedoes hands. Congratulations to the Torpedoes and good luck in the final.

– Brett McGhie, Torpedoes: We went into today as rank outsiders so we had nothing to lose. Fremantle came out hard in the first quarter as we knew they would, forcing us to weather the storm. We came out after the first term knowing we’d have the fitness if we could stay in touch and we managed to draw level. The boys pulled together, kept their heads and held off late pressure from Freo. If we stick to what we know in the final, who knows what can happen.

– Mitch Ainsworth, Fremantle: Congratulations to the Torpedoes they played very well and deserved to beat us today. It was a disappointing result for the club not win in Tim Cleland’s 300th game.

Luke Quinlivan, Torpedoes: Our game against Fremantle was always going to be both physically and mentally challenging. The Mariners have a wealth of experience,  and know how to play finals water polo. Probably the most impressive thing for me to witness was Brett McGhie and George Ford scoring four goals each. For the bulk of the season our US imports have carried the team in our attack; that is no secret.  So when Cory Nasoff, Brandon Johnson and Peter Sefton were being heavily marked, it was fantastic to see others step up to the plate. I believe the key to beating Fremantle was in our ability to force them to play 6-6 water polo,  good extra-man defense and limiting their capacity to play their centre-forwards. Prior to the game,  we knew chasing a score-line in excess of 8 goals would make our task incredibly demanding, so, not allowing Fremantle their usual counter attacking style of play also tied into the result. This is the first time the UWA Torpedoes have made a gold medal final appearance since 1996. So, obviously the team and coaching staff are all very pleased. We haven’t achieved success  yet however, so there’s only one direction to look and that’s forward.

Victorian Tigers war cry


The game was not as easy for Melbourne as the final score-line may suggest. The affair was tense with Barras creating many difficulties for the current ‘Southern Cross  Trophy’ owners. It was the imbalance between the two teams with respect to the presence and availability of strong individuals in all playing positions – goalkeeping, centre-backs, drivers and centre-forwards – that made the difference in Victorian’s favour. James Stanton was superb in the goals helping his team in many instances when they played a ‘zone’ defensive system having to address the issue of the opposition’s centre-forward, BJ Howden.

Unlike Melbourne, Barras have only one quality CF. That was one of the differences. Another was the physical superiority in most individual contests that Melbournians fully capitalized on as well as their perimeter shooting  by Englishman, Scott Carpenter, and Sam McGregor, resulting in the goals for which not only Brisbane’s goalie, Clay Douyere-Pate, should take responsibility but his field team-mates as well.

Victoria’s Daniel Lawrence had his best game in the finals series by creating and scoring two important counter-attack goals when his team most needed them.

Barracudas’ Billy Miller worked hard in this match by stealing the ball, creating goal-scoring situations, earning exclusions and converting three of those opportunities. Miller is a good player but there is one aspect of his game that detracts from the main purpose of the sport’s contest – that is, efficient and effective attacking and defensive actions. At present, this manifests itself in minor skirmishes with various degrees of  aggravations resulting in occasional personal faults. But one day it may become a major problem for him and, more importantly, for his team. The sooner Billy  understands this the better it will be for him and the teams he plays for.

Overall, Victorian Tigers achieved a well deserved win to reserve a place in the Grand-Final.

X-man:  Melbourne 4/1 (25%); Brisbane 8/3 (38%)

Referees: Michael Hart and Andrew Carney

Comments –

– Scott Carpenter, Melbourne: We put a lot of emphasis on our defense so to keep a team like Brisbane down to 5 goals is encouraging for us. We knew they would come out hard from the start and I think we coped well with that. We need to be more clinical in attack so that is something we’ll look at, but I think we’ve improved in each game so far this week so hopefully we can keep that going.

– Rhys Howden, Brisbane: Very disappointing game. It came down to them capitalizing on there opportunities, Where we struggled to put ours away. Now we have to prepare for tomorrow’s game another big side and focus on our one on one battles and try put our opportunities away.

James Stanton, Melbourne: It was a really physically challenging game against the Barracudas, and I think the quality of the game was up there with some of our best all season. I was really impressed with the fight they showed as a team and some of their individual performances were great, but we had a focus on very hard defense and I think that was the difference in the end. We blocked well, communicated well and were solid in transition and we can’t wait for today’s game against UWA, which I think will be more of the same high quality water polo.

One of the determining  factors in the Grand-Final match will be the fitness levels of both teams. It seems that Tigers got it right by progressively improving their condition with each match. The Torpedoes used their better fitness to beat Melville in a tight physical encounter. Hopefully, they can maintain their good  form for one more day. What will also count is the level of experience that the teams possess. And in this department the ratio is in Melbourne’s favour compared to the young UWA Torpedoes who are improving with each game however.

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

9 Responses to 2013 NWPL: Finals Day 3 – semi-final matches

  1. Hunor says:

    Thank you Erkin,

    Always good to see the matches from a professional perspective. Also I couldn’t help but notice the amount of exclusions in the matches between Fremantle and UWA. Do you believe in this technical refereeing? Or would rather allow the “wrestle” to go on. Finally, I think, the extra man conversions of the teams in the final series should be at least at 50%. Do you think this was below because of the nerves? Or other factors?
    Thank you,

    • Thank you for your comments Hunor!

      If water polo is not to become more ‘Jurassic’ than it is now, the refereeing should be encouraging skillful actions rather than just physical.

      Ideally, one would like to convert everything in attack and not allow goals in defense. But the percentage that you mentioned usually improves a team’s winning chances.

  2. Damir Stajduhar says:

    Your commentary is excellent Erkin, I enjoy your site very much. Regards from Damir.

  3. Mark Ridgwell says:

    I agree with Damir, thank you for this site Erkin and your time to write this blog, it is very informative and great for people that can’t make the matches.

  4. Ray Mayers says:

    Hi Erkin,

    Prophetic words for Billy written before the bronze medal playoff, perhaps he should read you reports to gain an insight.

    Enjoying your reports


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