The Australian Sharks, led by Sydney University’s Trent Franklin comfortably closed out their Olympic men’s water polo qualification series against New Zealand on Sunday with an 18-8 victory at the Henderson West Wave Aquatic Centre in Auckland.
The win saw the Sharks take the series 3-0, having already secured their place in Beijing with resounding victories in games one and two (20-2 and 18-2).
After a low-intensity first quarter was drawn at 3-all on Sunday, the Sharks lifted the pace to take the next three 4-2, 6-1, and 5-2.
Franklin, who captained the team in the absence of Sydney University team-mate Thomas Whalan, contributed four goals, with Sam McGregor grabbing two. Sydney University’s third representative at the Oceania series was Rob Maitland.
Head Coach John Fox used the dead rubber to fine-tune the Sharks’ game.
“We needed to practise our zone defence in match-play and it proved useful, although we were a little sloppy in the first half,” Fox said.
“We now look forward to training with Partizan Belgrade after Christmas and sorting out our priorities in the lead-up to Beijing.”
Test 1: Australia 20 (Sam McGregor 6, Trent Franklin 3, Johnno Cotterill, Rhys Howden, Rob Maitland, Gavin Woods, Jamie Beadsworth 2, Ryan Moody) d New Zealand 2.
Test 2: Australia 18 (Rob Maitland 5, Trent Franklin 3, Anthony Martin, Sam McGregor, Gavin Woods, Grant Richardson 2, Richie Campbell, Rhys Howden) d New Zealand 2.
Test 3: Australia 18 (Trent Franklin, Grant Richardson 4, Rhys Howden, Johnno Cotterill 3, Sam McGregor 2, Richie Campbell, Gavin Woods) d New Zealand 8. Australia wins series 3-0 and qualifies for 2008 Olympic Games.