Dolphin crowned champions
Event: Bristol & West Water Polo League Presidents KO Cup Teams: Swindon Dolphin -v- Newton Abbot Venue: Hengrove, Bristol Date: 15th December 2013
Swindon Dolphin were crowned winners of the Bristol & West Water Polo League Presidents KO Cup following a 16-11 victory against Newton Abbot at Hengrove Leisure Centre in Bristol.
The handicapped cup competition saw Dolphin awarded an eight goal start following two league defeats at the hands of Newton Abbot earlier in the season and from the off the Wiltshire side set out to put the game out of reach. Two early strikes from distance from Andy Strong, exploiting the space left by Newton Abbot’s decision to double mark the centre forward, stretched the lead before Devonians opened their account following poor defensive work. Back came Dolphin and good play from Lambros Glavopoulos and another long range strike, this time from David Quinlivan, saw Dolphin extend the lead to 11 goals before more defensive lapses saw Newton Abbot peg back two goals by the end of a thrilling opening quarter. Dolphin continued to control the game in the second quarter, frustrating Newton Abbot by excellent possession and adding further goals through Strong and Mark Lawlor to a single reply. At the half way point Dolphin held a comfortable 14 – 4 lead.
The third quarter did not go to plan for the Wiltshire side. Newton Abbot started to control the game and the Swindon defence lost composure. A number of needless major fouls were conceded from which the Devon side managed to score. Then hat trick hero Strong was excluded for the remainder of the game after picking up his third personal foul as he conceded a converted penalty. By the end of the quarter Dolphin’s lead had been reduced to six and the early momentum had been lost. Dolphin re-grouped in the final interval aiming to cut out the fouls that had been costly in the previous quarter and play a counter attacking game hitting Newton Abbot on the break. Despite conceding an early goal Dolphin clawed their way back into control winning a number of man up situations from which Quinlivan and Ian Brewer netted. A late onslaught by Newton Abbot saw them pull back two goals but fine keeping by captain Andy Hicks, who had an impressive game throughout, saw Dolphin to an ultimately comfortable victory.
This cup win capped an impressive 2013 season for Swindon Dolphin who finished fourth in Division 1 and were winners of the RNAS Culdrose tournament. The team has a good mix of youth and experience and has been boosted further by having Jack Plumb, one of a number of promising young players who emerged in 2013, selected for the South West age group squad and Abi Martin-Hicks attending regional trials. With a full strength squad Dolphin are a match for any team in Division 1 and will look forward with confidence to the 2014 season.
Swindon Dolphin’s first home fixture of 2014 is a pre-season friendly against Bristol Harlequins on 9th February. The first league game of 2014 is on 27th April against Welsh Wanderers II. Dolphin’s defence of the KO Cup will begin against the winners of the tie between beaten 2013 finalists Newton Abbot and British Champions Bristol Central.