Australian National Water Polo League Finals were played on April 7-9, 2017. The matches took place at at Pymble Ladies College Aquatic Centre in Sydney. Top 6 water polo teams to advance to the finals were not determined until the last round of regular season.
Sydney University Lions placed first, and together with the runner-up ACU Cronulla Sharks went straight to the semifinals, while other four teams had to play the Elimination Finals.
The Lions defeated Breakers in Round 11 (21-7), as well as the Devils (10-3) and the Tigers (7-3) in Round 12 to secure the top spot. The Sharks won all three matches played in last two rounds beating Breakers (10-7) in Round 11, and Devils (8-7) and Magpies (11-9) in Round 12.
UNSW West Magpies lost a close contest against the Breakers (12-13) in Round 11. In Round 12 they defeated the Tigers (9-3) but lost a crucial match to the Sharks (9-11) who replaced them at the second position. Magpies went to the Finals as third.
Brisbane Barracudas advanced from seventh to the fourth position in two weeks. In Round 11, they won both matches against the Mariners (12-10; 6-5) and collected one victory over the Torpedoes (7-4) whom they faced two times. They also triumphed in both games played against the Barbarians in Round 12 (23-10; 9-4).
The defending champion, UWA Torpedoes won one (9-6) out of two played games against the Barracudas in Round 11, and also beat the Mariners (11-8) in Round 12 to take the 5th spot.
Drummoyne Devils finished 6th after a bye week in Round 11 and losses to the Sharks (7-8) and the Lions (3-10) in Round 12.
Eliminations finals saw the 3rd team face the 6th, and the 4th face the 5th.
Magpies triumphed over the Devils on Friday (6-4) to get a step closer to winning the title. After a balanced first half which ended in a draw (4-4), the Magpies stepped up their defense and scored two unanswered goals in the third quarter. These appeared to be crucial for their victory since both teams were scoreless in the last quarter.
Torpedoes made a surprise and knocked out the higher ranked water polo team. Thanks to their impeccable performance, they went on a break with a one-goal advantage (6-5), which they kept during the third quarter. In addition, the defending champion increased the lead to two in the fourth quarter to win (9-7) and advance to the semifinal.
5th/6th Place Match and Semi Finals
In a match between the losers of the elimination finals, the Barracudas defeated the Devils (8-7) to finish 5th, leaving their rival at 6th place.
The Semi-Final 1 was played between No. 1 water polo team – the Lions – and the lowest ranked winner of elimination finals – the Torpedoes. The result was tied after the first quarter (2-2), but the Lions proved to be stronger than the reigning champion in the second period and had a three-goal lead at halftime (6-3). The Torpedoes did not surrender and kept in touch with their rival. They managed to bring the deficit down to two, but the Lions increased it to three again eight minutes before the end (7-4). Each team scored one goal in the last quarter, so the Lions won (8-5) and became the first finalist.
In the Semi Final 2 the runner-up – the Sharks – faced the highest ranked winner of elimination finals – the Magpies, who were excellent and made another huge step towards the title by “drowning” the second placed water polo team. They celebrated after a close contest and advanced to the final match defeating their rival 10-9.
3rd/4th Place Match and Final
The losers of semifinals faced each other on April 9 in the match that decided on the 3rd and the 4th place. The Sharks recorded a convincing win (15-7) over the reigning champion and won the bronze medal. They dominated the first quarter leaving the Torpedoes scoreless (4-0) and went on a break with a four-goal lead (7-3) after a tied second period. The defending champion was unable to overcome this deficit in the second half. Sharks’ defense was on point and they netted eight more by the end of the match.
The semifinals’ winners – the Lions and the Magpies – played in the Men’s Championship Final. The match between the Sydney rivals was very interesting and the winner was not determined until the very end. The Lions excelled in the first half, allowing their opponent to score only one goal in both quarters, and went on a break with a three-goal lead (5-2). However, the Magpies did not give up their hopes and completely controlled the game in the second half leaving the Lions scoreless. NWPL Finals Series MVP Richie Campbell made a heroic accomplishment, netting four goals for overcoming the deficit and bringing the lead for victory to his squad. The Lions lost 6-5 and the Sharks raised the 2017 NWPL trophy.
1st UNSW West Magpies
2nd Sydney University Lions
3rd ACU Cronulla Sharks
4th UWA Torpedoes
5th Brisbane Barracudas
6th Drummoyne Devils
Friday, April 7
UNSW West Magpies vs. Drummoyne Devils 6-4
Brisbane Baracudas vs. UWA Torpedoes 7-9
Saturday, April 8
5th/6th Classification Game
Brisbane Barracudas vs. Drummoyne Devils 8-7
Sydney University Lions vs. UWA Torpedoes 8-5
ACU Cronulla Sharks vs. UNSW West Magpies 9-10
Sunday, April 9
Bronze Medal Match
ACU Cronulla Sharks vs. UWA Torpedoes 15-7
UNSW West Magpies vs. Sydney University Lions 6-5