Stingers reach world water polo final

Australia’s women’s water polo team has earned a shot at a first world title since 1986 after beating Russia to reach the final in Barcelona.


The Stingers won 9-6 on Wednesday to set up a showdown with hosts Spain in Friday’s decider.

Australia, bronze medallists at the London Olympics, reached only their third world championships final and first since 2007.

They will attempt to add a second crown after winning the inaugural world championships in Madrid 17 years ago.

Despite a slow start, the Stingers assumed control in the second term to lead 4-3 at halftime and never looked back as they thwarted Russia’s counter-attack.

Nicola Zagame scored three goals in the win, which evoked memories of Australia’s 2007 semi-final triumph over Russia in Melbourne en-route to a silver medal finish behind the US.

Proud Australian coach Greg McFadden was excited by the challenge of facing Spain in the final.

“We are in the gold medal match now and it’s been a great journey and it would be awesome to beat Spain in front of their home crowd as it will be a tremendous atmosphere,” McFadden said.

Stingers star Ashleigh Southern said Wednesday’s win helped overcome the disappointment of missing last year’s Olympic final after an extra-time semi-final loss to eventual champions the US.

“It’s an amazing feeling being in the final. We really wanted to come out here and play for the world championship,” she said.

Olympic silver medallists Spain won a see-sawing encounter against Hungary 13-12, with the winning two goals coming from Laura Lopez in the final quarter.

The hosts had already achieved their best world championships result, having never finished higher than seventh.

Australia’s men’s team lost in the quarter-finals, falling in a heartbreaking extra-time defeat to Olympic champions Croatia on Tuesday.