Sedgefield Water Polo Club once again entered the Swim England National Age Group competition for Under-19 Boys.
A strong team of players completed a couple of training matches against Northumbria University before setting out to defend the title the club had won the previous year. Travelling to Grantham for the preliminary round of the competition saw Sedgefield defeat Carmarthen 15 – 3 and Watford 11 – 4 to progress into the qualifying stages.
Back on the road again the team travelled to Gloucester, for three matches,where success would bring a trip to Manchester. The first match was against City of Sheffield and in an extremely tough encounter, Sedgefield fought back from 4 goals down to take the lead only for Sheffield to fight back and re-take the lead going into the final minutes. Sedgefield scored twice in rapid succession to bring the game level 11 – 11. The team showed real determination not to be defeated and went into the second match of the day against Newton Abbott full of confidence. Sedgefield roared to a convincing 31 – 4 victory with many of the younger team players displaying their water polo credentials for the future.
The final match of the weekend Sedgefield faced Croydon. The team had two objectives for this match, first was a win and second to outscore City of Sheffields goal difference of 11. Up for the challenge Sedgefield dominated the London team and ran out victorious 20 – 5. This victory set the team up for a semi-final against City of Manchester in their home pool.
Finals weekend saw Sedgefield have the early match against City of Manchester. There is a lot of history between the clubs and Sedgefield have never been defeated by City of Manchester in a national competition. In a physical encounter, Sedgefield stuck to the game plan of solid defence and fast counter attack. Sedgefield controlled the match from the second period and ran out winners 9 – 4.
The other team for the final was to come from Caledonia v City of Sheffield. Caledonia took a strong grip on the game and scored consistently in the first two periods. With City of Sheffield having to play catch-up the opportunities for be countered become greater and Caledonia ran out winners 18 – 11.
The final was expected by many to be a one sided affair with Caledonia dominating. What they didn’t account for was the determination of the Sedgefield team not to hand over the title. Excellent defence held the Scots at bay for long periods and allowed Sedgefield to take a halftime lead. Caledonia worked hard and drew level in the third quarter. In the fourth and final period, the clocked ticked down to the last minute with the score level at 6 – 6. Caledonia raised their game one last time and scored two quick goals. At the final whistle, the score was Sedgefield 6 – 8 Caledonia. A defeat on the scoreboard but never outplayed.
Sedgefield have competed in these championships for many years – but from 2013, they have played 43 matches, won 38, lost 5 and drawn 1. They achieved 4 Gold, 1 Silver and 1 Bronze in that time.
A truly fantastic achievement.
Back Row Left: Richard Cousins (Coach) Matthew Taylor, Richard Murray, Ben Stephenson, Michael Cousins, Connor Keeble, Pete Griffiths (Coach), Mat Kendall
Front Row Left: Haydn Craggs, Joe Barron, Jake Mendelsohn, Michael Hampshire, Matt Bottomley, Kris Egginton, Nathan Brown