LOCAL water polo players Aaron Younger (Palmyra) and Joel Swift (East Fremantle) both scored in Australia’s first win of the Olympics last night, a thrilling 8-6 win over Japan.
Younger and Swift both scored vital goals leading into halftime, with the score at 3-3.
The game continued as a ferocious and evenly contested tussle deep into the final quarter.
With Australia leading 7-5 and less than four minutes on the clock Japan pushed forward, drawing a strong save from Aussie goal keeper Joe Dennerley.
Australian coach Elvis Fatovic called a time out – the fourth of the game for Australia and the eighth in total – to exhort a final rally by his players.
The break seemed to disrupt Japan’s momentum, and Joe Kayes took full advantage, soaring above two Japanese defenders and drilling a goal past the keeper – his fourth for the game from seven attempts.
That made it 8-5 with 2.31 minutes on the clock.
Japan charged forward but were again denied by Dennerley, they kept coming – and with 1.26 minutes remaining forced a lightning quick save from Dennerley.
Undeterred, Japan continued to surge – and with barely a minute remaining Mitsuaki Shiga drilled a goal into the top right corner to make the score 8-6.
With just 31 seconds to go Japan had the ball locked in their forward area but an ambitious lob missed the target and Australia held on for a much needed victory.