Torpedoes take on Barracudas in NWPL elimination final

THE National Water Polo League finals begin on Friday in Sydney with the defending champion UWA Torpedoes men needing to beat the Brisbane Barracudas to book a spot in the semi finals.

The 2017 NWPL finals begin at Prymble Ladies College Aquatic Centre on Friday with the Torpedoes beginning their premiership defence by taking on the Barracudas in an elimination final.

Coming off last year’s breakthrough triumph that saw UWA claim its first national league gold medal, the Torpedoes men finished the 2017 season in fifth position with a 15-7 record following last Friday night’s derby victory at UWA Aquatic Centre over the Fremantle Mariners.

Quinny proud of how far Torpedoes have come in his career 

That sets up an elimination final clash with the Barracudas on Friday. The game will began at 12pm Perth time.

If the Torpedoes win, they will take on either the Sydney University Lions or Cronulla Sharks in the semi finals on Saturday.

If the Torpedoes lose on Friday against the Barracudas, they will play in a classification match for fifth position on Saturday morning against the loser of the other elimination final between the UNSW Wests Magpies and Drummoyne Devils.

The Torpedoes might have finished in fifth position, but coach Andrei Kovalenko has no doubt any of the six teams who have qualified for the finals could end up with the premiership come Sunday.

It could very well be the last appearances with the Torpedoes for Luke Quinlivan, Brett McGhie and Florian Naroska as the new generation led by Nick Hughes, Lach Pethick, Andrew Ford, Tom Powell, Jed Thompson, Tim Putt and Christian Kyriakou.

Kovalenko doesn’t know what to expect going into the finals but he is glad at least his defending champion team has the chance to defend their crown.

“It’s very hard to say because honestly I don’t know there is many coaches around the world with the way things are going totally. There is a lot of things that might not be comfortable for the teams or the players or the coaches, but we have to deal with that on a day to day basis,” Kovalenko said.

“I am looking forward to the finals because it really is an open finals this year. We could finish first or we could finish sixth. It is such an even competition and I don’t remember when it was that way in my memory.

“You have always had one or two teams dominating and the rest of the teams are just there to play in the finals. But this year it’s an open book and even some teams who didn’t make the finals could beat the teams that are now in the finals.”

The Torpedoes and Barracudas played out two tremendous contests only a fortnight ago at UWA as well leading into Friday’s elimination final.

UWA won the first encounter 9-6 with Hughes scoring four goals and Powell and McGhie two each.

Then two days later, Brisbane bounced back beating the Torpedoes 7-4 despite two goals from Andrew Ford.

With the Barracudas led by Billy Miller and Rhys Howden who have four Olympic appearances between them, Kovalenko knows they will be a tough opposition as reflects on their encounters just two weeks ago at UWA.

“I was happy with the way we won our first game against them and the boys did play very well. Barras have really two top level Australian players and one of them is the captain so he knows how to lead the team and play the game,” Kovalenko said.

“We managed to neutralise both of them in the first game but I believe we went a little bit flat in the second game. It wasn’t that the boys didn’t play well but we did not score all the opportunities that we created.

“There was a lot of one-on-one missing and a lot of outside shooting that went in for the first game, but not in the second. Defensively we played pretty well and if we converted all the opportunities that we created the game would have been different. But that’s why we never can say who will win or lose.”

UWA Torpedoes v Brisbane Barracudas – 12pm WST