Geraldton teams go undefeated at water polo country championships to reclaim shields

Headshot of Jake Santa Maria
Jake Santa MariaGeraldton Guardian
Geraldton men and women did not lose a single game all weekend.
Camera IconGeraldton men and women did not lose a single game all weekend. Credit: Facebook

The shields are back where they belong as Geraldton dominated this year’s water polo country week carnival down in Rockingham to claim both men’s and women’s titles.

After both teams fell short in the deciders last year against Karratha, Geraldton was keen to get back on top in a competition they have traditionally performed well at.

But even though they went in with high hopes and expectations they exceeded them as both teams had a perfect tournament not dropping a single game en route to winning back both shields.

The women defeated Bunbury in the final with two goals in the opening quarter getting them off to a good start but Bunbury fought back to level the match as the teams traded goals.

Leading 7-6 heading into the final quarter Geraldton held their nerve with a terrific swim down the left from Abbie Benham setting up a cross for Tenielle Hawke who buried it from close range as they sealed the deal 9-6.

The women laid down a marker early with a 21-2 thrashing of Busselton as Aimee Hagan and Evie Prout brought over their outstanding B52s form with four goals each.

Bunbury proved a sterner challenge but doubles for Kobi Toomath and Ellie Pead saw them come out on top 7-5 before they faced last year’s champions Karratha.

Geraldton would give them no quarter in a 7-1 thumping with two more for Hagan before a 17-3 thrashing of Mandurah led by five goals from captain Emma Smith.

Against hosts Peel they defended hard in the final four minutes to come away with a 7-6 win and secure their spot in the final against Bunbury.

The men also started strong firing 17 goals past Hedland before topping that with another 22 goals past Bunbury with Ben Vittino notching seven goals across the two games.

They were tested against Mandurah trailing 4-3 but would they finish strong outscoring Mandurah 3-0 in the final quarter with doubles to Corey Smith and Jack Cocking helping them to a 8-5 win.

They eased into the final thumping Peel 15-2, smashing Bunbury 11-5 and putting away defending champs Karratha 15-7.

They would have to face the champs again in the final and were down early trailing 2-1 at the end for the first quarter and 5-3 at the half as Karratha upped their game.

But much like against Mandurah, they kicked up a gear in the second half and four goals in the second half overhauled Karratha and ensured a perfect weekend for the Geraldton Water Polo Association.

Luke Neuwert who had joined Geraldton after playing for Karratha last year described it as an amazing weekend.

“We played a team game with everyone being eligible to win best on ground and the final game was next level,” he said.

“Karratha was in the lead putting the pressure on, we got it back to lead by one and it came down to the last minute with Geraldton defending their goals to hold Karratha off from scoring.”

The players, coaches and organisers of the Geraldton country teams could not be prouder of both sets of players.

“Such an amazing weekend,” association president Anouska Barnes said. “Glad to have the championship shields back where they should be both the women and the men have done Geraldton proud.

“They played their hearts out in the GF and came away with the wins they were always going to be tough games and the players but they went above and beyond.”

Geraldton will host next year’s country championships.

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