A crushing 23-4 victory for the University of Nottingham Men’s Water Polo team against Trent Sharks was a smashing way to introduce the second half of this year’s Varsity series, made even greater by the stunning half-time debut performance of our brand new synchronised swimming squad.
Before starting the match, it was clear that UoN spectators were confident that we would win, with Tom Brookes predicting a win of 13-5, although Amar Mehta said that ‘I’m expecting Trent to prove a much tougher test than last year given their good season… it could go either way.’
UoN showed a strong start in the first quarter of the game, winning the first swim off before the club’s President, Oliver Bowen-Ashwin slammed in the first goal after only two minutes. Following closely behind, Ben Griffin and Joe Barker scored two more goals, providing a truly promising start to the game.
The only setback in the first quarter was a goal from Trent’s J. Musson, whose strong shot did actually meet the hand of our goalkeeper, Rob Smith, but the momentum carried the ball through. The first quarter finished with a score of 3-1 to UoN. Whilst Trent had managed to score, the better team was already evident, with constant interceptions from the Green and Gold, and Trent already struggling to keep up.
The second quarter began with a UoN false start, and the ball was granted to Trent, who hit the post with an attempt at goal. This was met by an immediate backlash from UoN, as the Men’s Captain Sam Richards caught the ball as it bounced back, and within seconds scored his first goal.
Richards scored twice more within this quarter, the second an impressive throw from a fair distance of around seven metres from the goal, which appeared to come from nowhere. Elliot Trafford also scored, and by half-time UoN were strongly in the lead, with a score of 7-1.
UoN’s goalkeeper showed great perseverance throughout the first half, intercepting three shots from Trent, and showing that UoN’s strength lay not only with their attack but defence.
As if the crowd wasn’t buzzing enough, the synchronised swimming team brought an element of spectacle to half-time with their first ever performance. The club, with their President, Emma Desmond, was created only at the beginning of this year, so to pull off the entertaining performance, dancing to UoN favourites such as Spandau Ballet’s ‘Gold’, and the Baywatch theme tune, was impressive to say the least.
The second half of the game began with a change of goalkeeper, with Griffin replacing Smith. Students in the crowd voiced the concern that he might not be as strong as Smith, but were proved wrong, as no goals were scored by Trent in the third quarter.
Instead, UoN scored nine more times, bringing the score up to 16-1. Smith proved to be as strong attacking as he had been in goal, scoring twice, as well as two more from Richards, and strong goals from Joshua Harridine, George Sadler and Douglas Walker.
The third quarter finished on a high, as Bowen-Ashwin was granted a penalty due to Trent’s foul play, when a player pulled back a speedy Alistair Mitchell, who had been racing towards the goal.
Seconds after Bowen-Aswhin achieved a clean shot, another Trent player fouled, and once more, Bowen-Ashwin scored an impressive penalty shot.
By the fourth quarter, UoN’s confidence had been earned, yet Trent managed to score some conciliatory goals.
Smith scored two more goals, one of which even seemed an accident, as he threw the ball casually above his head, and it happened to land in the goal. Following this, the aggressive Trent player, Musson, achieved a goal, moments before UoN’s Mitchell threw in yet another. The game began to appear more even at this point, with Musson bringing the score to 19-3. Barker and Sadler scored again for UoN, before Trent’s R. Compton scored their fourth and last goal of the night.
Already leading with the score at 21-4, Richards and Trafford hammered in two final goals, leaving Richards as the top goal scorer of the evening, having scored six.
Afterwards, the Water Polo Women’s Captain, Jas Littler, excitedly declared that Trent had had ‘no chance’, whilst Richards described it as an ‘easy win’. Bowen-Ashwin called it an ‘inspired game’, and also announced that next year there would be a bigger venue for the event. Indeed, around 100 spectators were turned away after the pool was overcrowded, and some supporters even climbed outside the building to watch the game through windows.
It seems appropriate that Walker says ‘we killed them’, and the final score of 23-4 says it all.
UoN’s team (goals scored):
- Rob Smith (4)
- Oliver Bowen-Ashwin (3)
- Ashley Wilkins
- Ben Griffin (1)
- George Sadler (2)
- Elliot Trafford (2)
- Joshua Harridine (1)
- Harry Bumfrey
- Joe McElroy
- Joe Barker (2)
- Sam Richards (Captain) (6)
- Alistair Mitchell (1)
- Douglas Walker (1)