The British Gas GBR Women’s Water Polo team pulled off the best result in their history by stunning world champions Spain, in their final 2014 FINA World League match.
Having won gold as team England at the Commonwealth Games the month before in Aberdeen, the Brits were in great form in Manchester and took victory over the reigning champions with a score of 9-7 (1-0, 3-1, 3-4, 2-2).
Having beaten GB in January (13-5), this time Spain were unable to match the power and exertion of the team, trailing most of the match, even though they had 11 of their 13 world champions playing.
Ciara Gibson-Byrne (above) bagged the first of her four goals to secure GB the opening quarter, and teammates Kathryn Fowler and Ella Chadderton scored in the second to ensure a lead at half-time. The Spanish came back out fighting in the third quarter but the Brits kept their noses in front throughout as Gibson-Byrne scored twice and Lisa Gibson found the net with 0.1 second left on the clock.
The world champions drew level early in the final quarter with two quick-fire goals to pull the game back to 7-7 but the Brits kept going with Winstanley-Smith winning two penalties which Gibson-Byrne and Chloe Wilcox converted to goals, to secure a famous victory.
The Brits will travel to their second consecutive European Championships in Budapest in July, having finished seventh in Eindhoven two years ago. Angie Winstanley-Smith said ‘The Commonwealth Championships really got us going on a positive wave and we’ve got good momentum now on to Europeans in the summer.’