The British Water Polo League was back with a bang as weekend 1 of the women’s top division kicked off in Sheffield this weekend. It was great to see the UK’s top clubs back competing again after last year’s league was cancelled due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Great Britain’s best female teams emerged at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre – one of the UK’s finest swimming pools.
The reigning champions from the season before last, Manchester, are the only team to keep a 100% win record from this weekend after convincing wins over Hucknall and Coventry. Their left-hander, Isobel Howe, netted nine in two games, putting her amongst the league’s top goalscorers.
Otter would have taken maximum points from the weekend having demolished Tyldesley on Saturday and beating Liverpool Lizards in a close contest on Sunday, but they were found to have played an unregistered player against the former, Tyldesley, and were deducted the two points they would have kept from that game. The side from London did well, however, to see off fierce rivals Liverpool on Sunday, thanks to three goals from GB international, Katy Cutler, who finds herself top of the goal-scoring charts after the first weekend.
Elsewhere, despite that defeat to Otter, three-time Super 5 Champions Liverpool Lizards got off the mark against Caledonia in their first game of the season with a 27-9 victory. Molly Boniface-Ashton and Milly Wordley were both in fine form in that game, grabbing seven goals each.
Coventry and Sheffield Sharks both registered wins this weekend, as did the newly promoted Tyldesley – who got their first-ever win in the women’s top flight with a win over Caledonia. The Scottish side, Caledonia, join Hucknall at the foot of the table – both of whom are yet to gain any points.
September 25, 2021
Manchester 23-4 Hucknall
Coventry 12-9 Sheffield Sharks
Otter 0-0 Tyldesley*
Liverpool Lizards 27-9 Caledonia
September 26, 2021
Manchester 13-7 Coventry
Caledonia 13-18 Tyldesley
Otter 10-8 Liverpool Lizards
Sheffield Sharks 14-9 Hucknall
* Otter won the match 20-6, but due to playing an unregistered player, they were retrospectively deducted two points
1. Manchester, 4pts (+25GD), 2. Coventry, 2pts (-3GD), 3. Otter, 2pts (+2GD), 4. Tyldesley, 2 (+5GD), 5. Liverpool Lizards, 2pts (+16GD), 6. Sheffield Sharks, 2pts (+2 GD), 7. Caledonia, 0pts (-23GD), 8. Hucknall, 0pts (-24GD)
The format of the British League involves two phases whereby teams play multiple fixtures across several weekends in various locations around the UK.
In the first phase of the season, eight teams in the top division play each other once in an attempt to qualify for the ‘Super 5s’ competition in the second part of the season. As the name suggests, the top 5 ranked teams from the first half of the season progress to the Super 5s, while the bottom 3 teams from the first phase take on the top 5 teams from the division below in a promotion/relegation play-off.
The team that tops the Super 5s in Spring is then crowned British Champions. The format is the same in the Men and Women’s competitions. The men’s league commences in October.