Bristol Women’s Water Polo team have had a busy few weeks finishing off the last of their BUCS first-round games and starting the Bristol and West Water Polo League season. BUCS first round ended off with three games in a week. In the first of these, Bristol secured a narrow 7-6 win against Birmingham. This was a tough match for all involved and was a great test of fitness. It was thanks to strong defence and a couple of quick attacks that Bristol managed to fight off Birmingham. A special mention goes to Rachael Barr who was awarded man of the match for her immense defence and multiple goals! The next match saw Bristol winning to King’s College London 13-5, a very satisfying result for what was proving to be a busy week. The third and final game was against Cardiff University. Sadly, the fear of playing a team who are infamously strong got to the team and Bristol lost 9-3. These results on top of the games played before Christmas mean that the Bristol Women have come 3rd in their division and have been drawn to play Manchester University at home in the next round – a match that everyone is training hard for and determined to win. Even though results have been mixed the great thing about this year is the strength and dedication of everyone on the squad – here’s hoping for a win against Manchester in a couple of weeks’ time to get us through to the BUCS semi-finals for the fourth year running!
After Thursday's 19-9 win against Southampton, Bristol Men's Water Polo team achieved yet another convincing victory against Imperial College on Saturday 1st February. Goal keeper Diego Lara only conceded 3 goals to Imperial, thanks to Bristol's impeccable defence. Wingman Charlie Harbot and centre forward Tom Dean were especially successful, with 4 and 3 goals scored respectively. After a tight first quarter, where Imperial scored two goals, Bristol asserted their superiority scoring 13 goals in total. Undefeated so far, Bristol Men's Water Polo are now looking forward to the BUCS semi-finals in Leeds and finals in Surrey, with the ultimate goal being taking the BUCS Championship title for the third consecutive year.
Expected to be Bristol's fiercest opponent in the group stage of BUCS, Imperial was ruthlessly sent home with a dazzling score of 13-3. The result confirms Bristol's undisputed position as leader of the Premier South league. Bristol boys, led by former GB coach Mark Taylor, have been unstoppable throughout this first term, following in the tracks of last year's undefeated BUCS season. Bristol’s post-Christmas success has also been helped by the arrival of two brand new goals. The goals were funded by the Bristol Alumni Foundation whose support the team is very grateful for.
The first few minutes of Saturday’s game were especially intense, with two goals in a row scored by Imperial. But the illusion didn’t last long as Imperial's hopes were destroyed by Bristol's Kieran Whittle, Charlie Harbot, Matt Jenner and Tom Dean, scoring four goals in the first quarter. Bristol's positioning and strategy was impeccable, which only highlighted Imperial's sketchy defence. Several man-ups were conceded by Imperial, providing even more goal scoring opportunities for Bristol. Keeper Diego Lara was rarely solicited, as Bristol's tight defence didn’t allow the London men to come closer than seven or eight meters from the goal. Four goals were scored during the second and third quarter, killing the suspense as to the issue of the match. This game once again showed the perfect cohesion between Bristol’s freshers and its more experienced players, and the training commitment of the team was rewarded with yet another victory.
Bristol comfortably qualified for the knockout phase of BUCS, winning the Premier South league and earning 50 BUCS points for Bristol in the process. They can now look forward to facing the leaders of the Northern Premier league, Edinburgh and Durham, with confidence. Captain Joe Worland commented before the game - “We’ve got a strong squad of players that have produced great results so far. If we can perform at the level we expect of ourselves we should win our final group matches. The real challenge starts in the knockout rounds - we expect to win BUCS so we can’t afford any hiccups.” Bristol Water Polo is already among the only Bristol clubs to ever retain a BUCS gold medal. Winning BUCS for the third consecutive time would be a milestone in the history of Bristol University.
Written by Clement Rames Photos from the match by Alice Trocellier
Taking some advice from former GB coach Mark Taylor
Goal keeper Diego Lara's skills were rarely needed due to Bristol's strong defence
Bristol High Performance athlete Tom Dean (white cap no.4) put in a strong performance
The boys won BUCS last year and have successfully integrated new players into the team to challenge the title again