After a narrowly missing out on the British league title in January, Cheltenham Swimming and water polo clubs men’s team were more determine than ever to return home from the British Gas Water Polo Championship with some silverware.

The British Gas Championship is the top competition in the domestic calendar, which sees the top eight seeds in the country play in a knock out competition. Having qualified for the finals weekend undefeated the town side were confident going into their semifinal against Edinburgh based side Portobello, who they had not lost to in the previous two seasons. Cheltenham raced to a 4-0 lead against their Scottish opponents before securing a 12 – 7 (5-2, 2-1, 2-2, 3-2) win.

This win set up a final between the local side and Manchester, the team who had edged Cheltenham to second place in the final weekend of the British Water Polo League at the start of the year.

Cheltenham dominated the first and third quarters, and were set with a comfortable 8-4 lead going into the final period. Just one minute into the final quarter Cheltenham’s Bernat Jakupovic was excluded without substitution for four minutes, this also gave Manchester a penalty which they converted. The four minutes of power play for Manchester saw Cheltenham control the possession well but Manchester still score a further 3 goals bring the score level at 8-8 with just 3minutes remaining. Neither side were able to break the dead lock and so the match went to penalties.

Manchester’s Joe O’Regan was the first to take a penalty putting a powerful shot bottom left to beat Cheltenham’s Sam Legge. Nine further penalties were taken, but two saves from Legge and four penalties from five converted by Cheltenham saw the town side lift the title.

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