Fitness key to success of Torps women

FOUR wins in seven away games is a start that UWA Torpedoes women’s coach Vaughn Thomson would certainly have taken at the start of the 2019 OVO Australian Water Polo League season and he credits his players for dedicating themselves to making fitness one of their strengths.

Thomson is in his first season in charge of the Torpedoes and it has been an impressive opening despite the challenges of the week-long Sydney road trip and then two games on the road against the Adelaide Jets.

But the UWA women returned home with two wins from the five games in Sydney and two of those three losses saw them lose in a penalty shootout and by a solitary goal – so it was a terrific showing in the challenging road trip.

Then last up trip to Adelaide saw the Torpedoes women win 9-5 on the Saturday against the Jets and back it up on Sunday winning 14-6.

That leaves them with four wins from seven road games ahead of this Saturday’s first derby of 2019 against the Fremantle Marlins at Bicton Pool and then a run nine home matches either at HBF Stadium or UWA Aquatic Centre.

A big factor in the Torpedoes’ success so far this season has been their fitness level to push the pace, swim hard on attack on each possession and generally outlast their tiring opponents.

That has been something that Thomson has wanted to be a strength of the team but while he has had that vision for them, he gives credit to the players for putting in the work to put it into practice.

“If you’re not fit, you’re not going to compete. You can have 15 great players and do well at times, but you’re never going to get anywhere in the big picture if you’re not at a certain fitness,” Thomson said.

“I’ve never, ever seen a team get by on talent alone. You need that hard work and fitness, and it was one of our major things. Everyone had to be a certain fitness level and we are 90 per cent there at the moment. Fitness is definitely very important to our game plan.

“It takes massive discipline and they put massive hours in. I can only do so much and then the ball is in their court and it’s up to them but they have done what they needed to do.

“It helps that 60 or 70 per cent of the squad is aiming for something whether it’s a junior world champs, world champs or something at the next level. That naturally keeps them motivated and they’ve done well.

“I can only do so much, but their discipline and drive to want to be fit and play better water polo all becomes about them at that stage. Most of them have taken that on board.”

Looking back on the two wins in Adelaide against the Jets, Thomson liked a lot of what he saw from his team.

The win on Saturday was on the back of the Torpedoes outscoring the Jets five goals to three in the second half with Raney Remme, Tayla Walsh, Glenda Morgan and Sam Shead all scoring two goals apiece.

They backed it up with an emphatic eight-goal win on the Sunday with Madi Rigo and Jamie Oberman scoring three times apiece, and Remme two and Walsh two.

There was plenty for Thomson to like but what he was most impressed with was the way their fitness shone on Sunday backing up the game from the previous evening.

“We did well and I was pretty happy. The first game we were a bit slow and sluggish, and it took a little bit of time to get used to the refs and the different environment. But we got the win which was the most important thing,” Thomson said.

“Then in the second game we adjusted our tactics slightly and were a lot better. We were a lot more clinical. I was pretty happy and it’s always tricky when people are expecting you to win, and you still actually have to go there and do the job. I’m very happy with two wins out of two games.

“We also adjusted slightly because I don’t think Adelaide are quite as fit as we are. So we adjusted our defence to suck them all into our half so that we could go hard every single time, and that really suited us and the fitness of our girls.

“It’s starting to click and the ladies are starting to play a bit more together and are starting to know where the other person wants the pass, and to read each other. It’s coming along nicely.”

With four wins on the board already, Thomson sees no reason why the Torpedoes shouldn’t be setting their sights on a finals appearance in 2019.

“It puts us in a good situation and some of the teams coming over here are solid, and are good teams,” he said.

“But I’d much rather play them here than on a road trip and rather they play four games in four days, and us just playing two with a day in between. It’s good for us and we are in a good position and it sets us up nicely to hopefully achieve that top six finish.”

Now to be preparing for Saturday’s away derby to Fremantle ahead of the nine home matches for the Torpedoes with two each against Balmain, UNSW Wests, Queensland and Hunter with home clash with the Marlins as well, Thomson is looking forward to some time at home.

He feels it should help the Torpedoes immensely as well as they now get time to train uninterrupted by travel together for the rest of the season.

While the road schedule to start looks daunting at the start of a season, the fact it’s now behind them with four wins under their belt, he is looking forward to what lies ahead.

“I’m looking forward to it, I won’t lie. I’m looking forward to a bit of time in Perth for us now,” Thomson said.

“Even before the season started, I was in Brisbane with the under-18s and then I was in holiday in South Africa so it’s just been continuous travel. So it’s nice to be back now and get used to my own bed again and to be home.

“I definitely think it’s a big thing for us to not have to travel again, hopefully until finals. And having those results already on the board with points in the bag, teams coming over here will find things difficult that we did when we were on the road.

“There’s some natural advantages from playing at home and now that we are through that start of the season on the road, it’s actually quite a good thing for us and I’m looking forward to this time at home.”