Olympic champion Netherlands regains some Beijing lustre

Shanghai 2011 - Water Polo

USA vs NED - credit: Russell McKinnonNetherlands could prove the “dark horse” of the women’s water polo competition at the XIV FINA World Championships at the Natatorium.

In the opening game of the championship, the most credentialled women’s teams — holders of all four major titles — battled to a 7-7 draw, making the following games all that more important to decide who shall go through, possibly, as Group A winner.

The game was always close with centre forwards dominating and defensive structures impenetrable at times.

Hungary took the early group lead with a 21-6 thrashing of Kazakhstan, five goals coming from Rita KESZTHELYI.

Group B rather unexpectedly saw New Zealand lead the group with a 19-6 walloping of Uzbekistan with Kirsten HUDSON claiming six goals.

The real interest in the group was the earlier game between 2009 silver medallist Canada and 2007 silver medallist Australia, a game that ended in a decisive 10-7 victory for Canada.

The North Americans won the first three periods in convincing style and world No 3 Australia, despite three straight goals, could not match Canada’s shooting or penetrate the superior defence.

In Group C, Russia beat Brazil 15-4 and China turned it on for the crowd with a 22-5 romp over South Africa.

RSA vs CHN - credit: Russell McKinnon
RSA vs CHN - credit: Russell McKinnon

Group D produced a thriller when Greece held out Spain 10-9 after being three goals ahead in the final quarter. The Blanca GIL-led Spaniards were always in the hunt but the goal that brought the game to within one only came 10 seconds from time.

Italy laboured at times but produced many glimpses of top play with a 12-4 victory over Cuba.