After finishing 4th in the BUCS Water Polo Premier North group, Leeds were drawn against Premier South 5th placed Imperial in what had the makings of a close-fought contest. In reality, Leeds glided through their first round tie, demonstrating a gulf in class as they cemented their place in the semi-finals, winning 18-6.
The first quarter got underway with Leeds exploding out the blocks, taking them less than 40 seconds to score the first goal. Leeds went on to have the majority of the possession, yet struggled to turn their dominance into clear chances. However, their utilisation of counter-attacks as well as clinical finishing proved very successful, scoring four goals from four attempts in the first half and creating a substantial gap between themselves and Imperial as the quarter ended 4-1.
As the second quarter began, there was a feeling that the game should really be more closely contested and Imperial found their feet as they began to attempt to claw back the result. After a massive effort from the away side, credit has to go to Leeds goalkeeper and captain James Craven who consistently kept the opposition’s shots as bay, refusing to allow them back in the game. After a very tight quarter with four goals shared evenly between the two sides, half time was called with the scores at 6-3.
Leeds began to really turn on the style in the third quarter opting for a much more attacking approach in an attempt to establish an unassailable lead. Their decision paid off as the Gryphons began to rack up goals and display their superiority. The stand-out performer of the quarter was Will Law who was resilient in defence, while also contributing massively going forward.
However when the third quarter was called to an end with the scores at 12-5 it was Will Salt’s spectacular goal that was the main talking point. With his back turned to goal he managed to push off in one direction taking the defender with him, whilst slotting the ball behind him in the other, catching the opposition goalkeeper off-guard and scoring at the near post.
The final quarter continued in the same fashion as Imperial’s heads seemed to drop and Leeds showed no signs of relenting. Leeds pushed on widening the gap further with six more goals, including an audacious lob from Paul Parkes, to really end the match as a contest. The game was drawn to a close with Leeds winning 18-6.
Leeds will now be looking to replicate their performance in the semi-finals as they attempt to go all the way in this competition. Speaking to captain James Craven after the game he commented on what was a “brilliant performance” and mentioned that “the boys had been training really hard for this over the past two weeks, it was like a cup final for us, but now we need to concentrate on the semi-final.”
Photos: Leo Garbutt