WPWL 2011 (Men): Japan's close win over Kazakhstan, Australia beats Kiwis at home

World League

Sydney (May 17). Kazakhstan's veneer as the best men's team in Asia was further stripped by Japan with a dramatic 11-10 victory in the second leg of the Asia-Oceania FINA World League water polo event at Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre.

Kazakhstan beat Japan 10-8 in their Asian Games semifinal in Guangzhou, China in November but Japan reversed that 10-8 result in Auckland during the first leg last week and last night led 9-3 in the third period before allowing the Kazakhs back into the game, with two of those goals coming in brutality suspension time.

Japan's Yoshinori SHIOTA struck out late in the third quarter and was sent from the pool, giving Kazakhstan a four-minute gift period of an extra man. Kazakhstan's final goal came at 2:18, leaving the Japanese nervous, who failed to convert an extra-man chance inside the final two minutes. Japan has 11 men returning from Guangzhou against Kazakhstan's eight.

Japan's experience saw a 3-1 opening quarter converted to 5-3 by halftime. Japan then held 9-5 and 11-7 advantages with four minutes remaining but Kazakhstan was still not defeated, scoring three times in two minutes penalty, extra man and field goal. Shota HAZUI top-scored for Japan with three, as did veteran Kazakh captain Evgenyi ZHILYAYEV.

It's a big comedown for the Kazakhs, who have lost such experienced players as the high-scoring Sergey GUBAREV, Alexandr GAIDUKOV and Alexandr AXENOV.

Australia followed up its 22-4 thumping of New Zealand last week with a similar margin 22-3 in the other men's game. The training run continued the Aussie Sharks' unbeaten run in a series where head coach John FOX is using two different teams in the legs, strengthening his base ahead of the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Led by new captain Rhys HOWDEN, a Beijing Olympian, the Sharks opened a clear first-quarter advantage and strong performances from Steven CODY and Mitchell BAIRD in attack saw the home team take an 8-2 advantage. This became 15-2 and 18-3 at the next breaks. Stephen CODY and Mitchell BAIRD led the Sharks with four goals each.

In the only women's game for points, world No 3 China defeated New Zealand 20-8 with SONG Donglun scoring twice in each of the first, third and fourth periods for six goals. Kiwi skipper Casie BOWRY scored three goals as her team trailled 6-2 at the quarter, 10-4 at halftime and 15-7 after three periods.

In the non-competition match, Australia whipped the Australian 20&Under team 14-6.

Match reports

Quarters:  8-2, 6-0, 4-1, 4-0

AUSTRALIA: Carl ZVEKAN, Richie CAMPBELL, Trent FRANKLIN, Stephen CODY (4), Chris DYSON (2), Aiden ROACH (1), Mitchell EMERY (1), Mitchell BAIRD (4), Thomas WHALAN (1), Gavin WOODS (2), Rhys HOWDEN (3), Adam POLIVKA (2), Tyler MARTIN (2). Head Coach: John FOX.

NEW ZEALAND: Scott GRAHAM, Hunter De GROOT (1), Scott TAYLOR (1), James DAVIDSON, Alex MacKENZIE, Conor LUI, Dan JACKSON, Matt REID, Eamon LUI (1), Scott GRIFFITHS, Lachie TIJSEN, Jamie CAMERON. Head Coach: Kurt GOLDSWORTHY.

Quarters: 3-1, 2-2, 4-2, 2-5

JAPAN: Katsuyuki TANAMURA, Kan AOYAGI (2), Koji TAKEI (2), Shota HAZUI (3), Mitsuaki SHIGA, Akira YANASE, Yusuke SHIMIZU, Atsushi NAGANUMA, Kan IREI (1), Yoshinori SHIOTA (2), Keigo OKAWA (1), Satoshi NAGATA, Naoki SHIMIZU. Head Coach: Hideki TAKAGI.

KAZAKHSTAN: Alexandr SHVEDOV, Alexey SHMIDER, Azamal ZHULUMBETOV, Roman PILIPENKO, Murat SHAKENOV, Alexandr FENOCHKO (2), Anvar SHAKENOV, Rustam UKMANOV (2), Evgeniy ZHILAYEV (3), Mikhail RUDAY (2), Ravil MANAFOV, Nikita KOKORIN (1), Alexey DEMCHENKO. Head Coach: Sergey DROZDOV.

Quarters: 6-3, 4-1, 5-3, 3-1

CHINA: YANG Jun, TENG Fei (2), LIU PING (2), SUN Yujun (3), HE Jin, SUN Yating (2), SONG Donglun (6), ZHANG Lei (1), WANG Yi (1), MA Huanhuan (3), SUN Huizi, CHEN Yuan, WANG Ying. Head Coach: Juan JANE GIRALT.

NEW ZEALAND: Gabrielle CROTHALL, Emily COX, Kelly MASON (2), Danielle LEWIS (2), Amy LOGAN, Nicole LEWIS, Ashley SMALLFIELD, Alex BOYD, Johanna THEELEN, Casie BOWRY (3), Kirsten HUDSON, Jasmine MYLES, Brooke MILLAR. Head Coach: Eelco URI.