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Indonesia Rezza Auditya Putra (white cap) looking for options in the match against Singapore in the SEA Swimming Championships 2012 Men's Under-23 water polo. (Photo: SSC)


Singapore and Indonesia went head-to-head in the men’s Under-23 and women’s open category in the final day of water polo action in the inaugural Southeast Asia (SEA) Swimming Championships 2012.

The first gold medal match of the evening saw Singapore’s women team going up against Indonesia. It was a bad start for the host as they struggled to mount any credible offense, trailing 1-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Singapore stepped up a notch and started to put pressure on the visiting team in the second quarter. Their hard work was rewarded shortly as two thunderous shot from distance found the back of the net. Building on the momentum gained, the women scored another goal to close out the first half leading 3-1.

The pace of the match slowed down in the final two quarters as fatigue started to set in on both teams, a result of the aggressive play in the first half.

The Indonesians tried to up the tempo to find the equalizing goal but were often left frustrated by Singapore’s full court press defense. The match was put to bed with less than three minutes to go when Ooi Si Hui Melissa scored, giving Singapore a three-goal advantage.

Singapore held on to win the women’s water polo gold medal, beating Indonesia 5-3.
 

 
 
Players in action in the women's gold medal decider match between Singapore (white cap) and Indonesia (blue cap). Singapore went on to win 5-3. (Photo: SSC)


Singapore and Indonesia battled again in the next match, this time for the men’s Under-23 gold medal.

It was an evenly contested match with momentum often swinging from one team to the other, keeping the capacity crowd in the grandstand at Toa Payoh Swimming Complex on the edge of their seat.

Indonesia drew first blood when they scored with a ferocious shot from distance, six minutes into the match.

Spurred on by a voracious crowd, Singapore fought back with an impressive second quarter display to lead 3-2.

Indonesia stepped up their game and stunned the host in the third quarter, scoring three goals to Singapore’s one, to lead 5-4 heading into the final quarter.

Singapore coach Lee Sai Meng, determined to foil the party of the Indonesians, sent on captain Loh Zhi Zhi,

Loh, one of two players in last year’s SEA Games squad, put on a captain’s display to fire in the equalizer from range to tie the game 5-5. Momentum swung back to Singapore when Ang Zi Yuan gave them the lead, before captain Loh sealed the victory with his third goal of the match.

 
 
The Singapore men's Under-23 water polo team with their gold medals at the SEA Swimming Championships 2012 (Water polo). (Photo: SSC)


Indonesia pulled one back late on, but it was too little too late as Singapore won 7-6 to clinch the gold medal.

Reflecting on the rollercoaster of a match, captain Loh said, “We had a bad start, and our inexperience showed. We weren’t playing up to our standard, and there were a lot of misplaced passes.

“That said, we were confident that if we played to our standard, we can win. In the second half, the seniors stepped up, and credit to the team, we managed to come back.”

Despite having to come from behind to win, Singapore coach Lee was happy as it reflected the competitive nature of the SEA Swimming Championships and felt that the experience was invaluable for his team.


“The standard of competition is definitely good for our team,” he said.

The other result of the day saw Thailand beat Philippines 9-5 to win the bronze medal for the women’s category. The Thais also won the bronze in the men’s Under-23, ending the tournament with 4 points.

 


For photos on the final day of water polo action, visit
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ssc-sportsphotography/sets/72157630005620792/

For fixtures and information on the other aquatic disciplines in the SEA Swimming Championships 2012, visit
http://www.seaswim.org/